The NFL and NFLPA announced key changes to the COVID protocols for the rest of the season. In a joint statement, they announced all clubs will have strict COVID protocols, very similar to the ones teams experienced last season. There are also updated protocols to come off the Reserve/COVID list for those who test positive.
In a statement, the league and union announced all teams will be in advanced COVID protocol. That means all players and coaches must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Teams will also meet either outside or virtually, there will be no in-person meals, and no outside visitors for away teams travelling.
That information comes from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
These protocols are very similar to what the league had in place last season during the first year of the pandemic. COVID cases have skyrocketed in recent days due to the holiday season and the new Omicron Variant that has begun to spread in the United States. 75+ players have been placed on the Reserve/COVID list over the prior three days, while teams like the Browns, Washington Football Team, and Rams have been rocked with throngs of players testing positive.
The statement also announced players who test positive could have a quicker path to being activated. Vaccinated, asymptomatic players need only one negative test to come off the Reserve/COVID list, and testing can begin immediately. That’s a change from players needing two negative tests and testing being spaced out at least 24 hours apart.
That should allow some number of players to come back within days and potentially not miss a game. Prior to this change, the average player was missing about ten days before testing out of COVID protocol.
Pelissero clarified this new protocol will apply to new players who test positive, not ones already in the protocol.
The Steelers currently have two players on the Reserve/COVID list: DB Linden Stephens and NT Montravius Adams. Those two players will have to follow the old rules to test out. There have been no reports of more Steelers being added to the list today, a hopeful sign there isn’t an outbreak occurring as there is in other organizations.