NFL has plan for fewer COVID cases: fewer tests

Washington vs. Dallas Cowboys.  The NFL has dropped its testing requirement for vaccinated players without COVID symptoms.

The NFL has dropped its testing requirements for vaccinated players without COVID symptoms, leaning on the theory that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Photo by Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post via Getty Images

A day after the National Football League had to postpone several games due to numerous COVID outbreaks sidelining more than 100 players, the league dropped its weekly testing requirement for vaccinated players who do not show symptoms .

Trying to end “the rest of the season responsibly,” the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the players’ union, announced a deal on Saturday after the league postponed a Saturday game between the Cleveland Browns and the Raiders of Las Vegas on Monday and two more games on Tuesday night.

“The intensive protocols implemented last week and the rescheduling of three games were designed to stop transmission of the virus and play this week’s games safely,” the league and union said in a joint statement.

“After this weekend’s games, we agreed to implement a new set of protocols, which will include a more focused test plan, more flexibility for players to virtually attend meetings, as well as an option to withdrawal of high-risk players for the remainder of the season, ”the joint statement said.

“More targeted testing” in this case means fully vaccinated players will no longer have to test every week as has been the case so far this season, and will only be required to test and isolate if they report symptoms, according to a score obtained by the NFL network. Protocols also require players to undergo “enhanced symptom screening” each day before entering team facilities.

NFL chief medical officer Dr Allen Sills said Thursday more than two-thirds of players on the COVID-19 roster were asymptomatic. The NFL situation reflects a growing consensus that although vaccines appear to be very effective against serious illness and death from infections caused by Omicron—especially for those who received booster injections—The emergence of the highly infectious variant greatly reduced the protection against the initial infection.

Unvaccinated players will still be subject to daily testing, according to the note.

“We are entering a very different phase of this pandemic and somehow struggling with a whole new disease,” Sills said on Saturday. “We’re trying to test smarter and more strategically. “

Outbreaks in professional sports are also dramatically changing the schedules and protocols of the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.

The NHL, which has the unique challenge of having more Canadian teams (seven) than any other American professional sports league combined, announced Sunday he would postpone the 12 games between the American and Canadian teams scheduled between Monday and Thursday this week. Even before the new cross-border game postponements, dozens of NHL games had been postponed since the league’s season began two months ago.

On Sunday night, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association struck a deal to allow teams destroyed by COVID to sign replacement players so they can continue playing, according to ESPN. Teams will be allowed to sign a temporary replacement for each player who enters what the NBA calls its “health and safety protocols,” meaning the player has tested positive or returned a test with inconclusive results. .

Five other upcoming NBA games were called off Sunday, including two for the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets currently have 10 players who have been placed on the NBA’s COVID-19 roster.

Before the cancellations, the Nets roster was so short of available and healthy players that the team said on Friday that would bring back star goaltender Kyrie Irving – who hasn’t played this season because he’s not vaccinated, and therefore not allowed to play in the Nets arena due to New York regulations – for the games on the road.

Not even 24 hours later, however, Irving himself entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

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