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NFL, NFLPA working on COVID-19 protocol changes that would reduce testing of vaccinated players, per report

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In the aftermath of what was a chaotic week for the NFL, the league and the NFLPA are discussing possible changes to their COVID-19 protocols regarding vaccinated players, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The report comes after the league had more than 100 players test positive for COVID-19 over the past week. The league-wide outbreak caused the NFL to postgame three of its Week 15 contests

The two sides are working to adjust their testing procedures for vaccinated players. Instead of being tested on a weekly basis (which is currently the case), vaccinated players who are not showing symptoms may receive random checks. Vaccinated players will continue to get tested by team doctors in the event they show symptoms. Unvaccinated players would still get tested on a daily basis under changes that are currently being discussed. 

The league may also impose more symptoms checks in lieu of weekly tests for vaccinated players. The NFL and NFLPA are also in talks of providing home tests for players who may want them. The NFLPA has inquired about an in-season opt-out for players who are uncomfortable with the discussed changes. 

The NFL imposed intensive COVID-19 protocols earlier this week that include mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, grab-and-go meal service in team cafeterias, virtual-only meetings, and restrictions for weight room use. The league also implemented player restrictions for activities outside of the facility. 

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Changes to COVID-19 protocols were also implemented this week that made it easier for vacationed players to return to play after testing positive for the virus. 

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Vaccinated players who test positive for COVID-19 can now return to the field if:

  • They have two PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that are either negative or have a CT (cycle threshold) of 35 or greater. 
  • One PCR test that is either negative or has a CT value of 35 or greater, and negative Mesa test taken without 24 hours of the PCR test. 
  • Two negative Mesa tests. 

Prior NFL test analysis revealed that players with CT values at 35 or higher do not transmit COVID-19 and therefore are not contagious. 

“It’s not about loosening our standards,” said NFL chief medical offer Dr. Allen Sills. “If anything, we’re just bringing a higher degree of precision in measuring ourselves against a more precise ruler.”


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