The N.F.L. strengthened its Covid-19 protocols because the variety of constructive instances rises throughout the nation and individuals make plans to convene for Thanksgiving, and beneficial facilitating testing for households of gamers and different staff.
Every individual, no matter their vaccination standing, should put on masks inside group services between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, and all gamers, coaches and assist employees additionally have to be examined for the coronavirus on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, after the Thanksgiving weekend.
This season, unvaccinated gamers and soccer employees within the league’s Tier 1 designation, essentially the most important personnel, have to be examined day-after-day. Those who’re vaccinated have to be examined at the least as soon as per week, and probably extra if they’re symptomatic or have an in depth contact with somebody who checks constructive.
With Wednesday’s replace to the protocols, unvaccinated gamers should wait for their outcomes earlier than coming into a group facility, whereas vaccinated gamers and employees can enter their services, however should stay masked whereas they wait for outcomes.
In a memo despatched to all 32 groups Tuesday night time, the league additionally urged golf equipment to arrange drive-through testing services for gamers, employees and any buddies and household who might go to them for the vacation.
The league additionally reminded its groups of current prohibitions geared toward decreasing potential publicity to the coronavirus. Unvaccinated gamers are to not collect in teams of greater than three individuals outdoors of the group facility; go to a nightclub or bar the place greater than 10 persons are current; attend concert events and different occasions; or attend events in properties the place there are greater than 15 individuals, if all of them don’t put on masks.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, mentioned the N.F.L. tightened restrictions as a result of the league noticed its highest variety of confirmed constructive coronavirus checks within the earlier two weeks. “That wasn’t a total surprise to us because our numbers mirror the number of cases in the country,” he mentioned.
Between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13, there were 81 confirmed positive cases in the N.F.L., 34 gamers and 47 employees, essentially the most in any two-week interval this season. The gamers affected included high-profile starters like Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Los Angeles Chargers defensive finish Joey Bosa, and Cleveland Browns operating again Nick Chubb.
In the prior two-week period, there have been 35 confirmed constructive instances, together with 11 gamers.
In the United States, there have been greater than 85,000 constructive instances within the 14-day interval that ended Tuesday, an 18 p.c enhance, according to data collected by The New York Times. The variety of instances has risen quickest within the Midwest and Northeast, the place cooler temperatures are driving individuals to spend extra time indoors.
About 94 p.c of all gamers and practically all coaches and employees are vaccinated, in line with the N.F.L., so a lot of the league’s contaminated personnel have had milder signs. Sills mentioned Wednesday there has not been any uncontrolled unfold of the virus inside group services, and that in some gentle instances vaccinated gamers, coaches and employees have been in a position to return in fewer than the prescribed 10 days as a result of they examined unfavourable twice in a two-day interval.
Jeff Miller, a league spokesman, mentioned the implementation of the tighter protocols was not in response to Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers’ unvaccinated quarterback, who tested positive for coronavirus two weeks in the past and was later fined $14,650 for failing to comply with Covid-19 protocols agreed on by the league and the gamers’ union.
The Packers have been fined $300,000 for failing to watch whether or not gamers adhered to the rules.
To implement the toughened protocols, the league mentioned it will be “periodically reviewing footage from surveillance cameras in club facilities” and penalizing gamers and golf equipment “as warranted.” Teams should set up cameras of their weight rooms and cafeterias and should hold the video from these cameras for 30 days in case the league must assessment it.