NFL Adds Mask Requirement, Increases Covid Testing

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The NFL has stepped up its Covid-19 protocols as the number of positive cases rises across the country and people plan to reunite for Thanksgiving, and has recommended making testing easier for players’ families and other employees.

Everyone, regardless of their immunization status, must wear masks inside the team’s facilities between November 25 and December 1, and all players, coaches and support staff must also be tested. of the coronavirus on November 29 and December 1, after Thanksgiving weekend.

This season, unvaccinated players and football staff in the league’s Tier 1 designation, the most essential staff, must be tested every day. Those who are vaccinated should be tested at least once a week, and potentially more if they are symptomatic or have close contact with someone who tests positive.

With Wednesday’s protocol update, unvaccinated players must wait for their results before entering a team facility, while vaccinated players and staff can enter their facilities, but must remain masked while they are out. ‘they are waiting for the results.

In a note sent to the 32 teams on Tuesday night, the league also urged clubs to set up drive-thru test facilities for players, staff and any friends and family who may be visiting them for the holidays.

The league also reminded its teams of existing bans aimed at reducing potential exposure to the coronavirus. Unvaccinated players should not gather in groups of more than three people outside the team premises; visit a nightclub or bar where more than 10 people are present; attend concerts and other events; or attend parties in houses where there are more than 15 people, if not all of them are wearing masks.

League chief medical officer Dr Allen Sills said the NFL tightened restrictions because the league recorded its highest number of confirmed positive coronavirus tests in the previous two weeks. “It was not a total surprise to us as our numbers reflect the number of cases in the country,” he said.

Between October 31 and November 13, there were 81 confirmed positive cases in the NFL, 34 players and 47 staff, the most in a two-week period this season. The players affected included high profile starters like Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb.

In the previous two weeks, there have been 35 confirmed positive cases, including 11 players.

In the United States, there were more than 85,000 positive cases per day on average during the 14-day period that ended Tuesday, an increase of 18%, according to data collected by The New York Times . The number of cases has increased fastest in the Midwest and Northeast, where cooler temperatures are causing people to spend more time indoors.

According to the NFL, about 94% of all players and almost all coaches and staff are vaccinated, so most infected league staff have experienced milder symptoms. Sills said on Wednesday that there had been no uncontrolled spread of the virus inside the team’s facilities, and that in some mild cases, vaccinated players, coaches and staff were able to return in less than the 10 days prescribed because they tested negative twice in two. day period.

Jeff Miller, a league spokesperson, said the implementation of the stricter protocols was not in response to Aaron Rodgers, the unvaccinated Green Bay Packers quarterback, who tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago and was later fined $ 14,650 for failing to follow Covid-19 protocols agreed to by the league and players’ union.

The Packers were fined $ 300,000 for failing to monitor players’ compliance.

To enforce the strengthened protocols, the league said it would “periodically review images from surveillance cameras at club facilities” and penalize players and clubs “as warranted.” Teams must install cameras in their weight rooms and cafeterias and must retain video from those cameras for 30 days in case the league needs to see it again.

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