The NFL and NFLPA have agree to COVID-19 testing protocols ahead of the start of training camps over the upcoming weeks.
The agreement involves daily testing for the first two weeks of training camps. Following the initial two weeks of testing, the league will scale back testing frequency to every other day if the initial batch of results shows a positive test rate below 5%. If the positive test rate is above 5%, daily testing will continue until the percentage falls to the appropriate level.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to daily COVID-19 testing for the first 2 weeks of camp, after which they’ll look at positivity rates. If the rate drops below 5% for players and Tier 1/Tier 2 individuals, they’ll move to every other day. Important deal as talks continue on other issues.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
Players, coaches and other team personal will have to undergo a five day pre-entry testing program prior to the actual start of camps, according to a memo from the league office. All individuals will take an initial test, then wait 72 hours before receiving a second one. There will be no COVID-19 testing between the two screenings, and individuals will not be permitted in club facilities during that time. The daily testing and return of players to facilities will begin on the fifth day.
Players will require multiple negative test results before they can return to facilities and participate in team activities.
The final testing protocol agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA extends the initial screening timeline, I’m told:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
Players will be tested on Days 1 and 4 of camp, with two days of remote education in between. Waiting another day helps make sure to capture the virus as it incubates.
“This is ongoing work,” Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer said. “There’s no finish line with health and safety, and I think these protocol are living, breathing documents, which means they will change as we get new information. They will undoubtedly be changing over time, which is what we usually see in medicine.”
The league has contracted BioReference Laboratories to handle all testing. Not only does this ensure that results get back within 24 hours, but it also prevents the league from using up tests in their various markets that could be used for the public.
“Any decision that we make, whether it’s around testing or screening or treatment or games, we want to make sure that we are in no way having a negative impact on the public health situation,” Sills said. “That is acutely true when you speak about testing. We have had ongoing and extensive discussions with multiple parties around that issue. And we have discussed at length with our testing vendor to make sure we’re not having a negative impact on their business.”
The NFL had received criticism over the past few weeks for not already having these protocols in place, considering they had more time than any other American professional sports league to do so.
Players also expressed their disagreements with the league, with many taking to Twitter to publicly express their desire to play, while simultaneously keeping themselves and their families safe.
Ultimately the sides were able to hash out their differences before any significant labor disputes arose, potentially putting the start of the season in jeopardy.
The NFLPA released a statement in support of the new protocols Monday.
Our statement on Covid-19 testing procedures: pic.twitter.com/6mYF3aK0jm— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 20, 2020