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NFL considering cutting time between covid tests for vaccinated players

The NFL is considering testing players on a more frequent basis after teams across the league have had their preseasons affected by covid related issues.

The NFL considerng testing players on a more frequent basis after teams across the league have had their preseasons afftected by Covid related issues.
Harry HowAFP

Covid issues in the NFL are far from over, as the NFL is considering ramping up the frequency that vaccinated players are tested. Cases continue to soar around the country, and in the league less than two weeks from the start of the regular season.

Vaccinated players could be facing weekly testing

At the moment vaccinated players are being tested once every two weeks, but the league in considering cutting the time between tests to once every seven days according to NFL general counsel Larry Ferzani.

Among a list of other regulations, unvaccinated players and those who are not completely vaccinated are subject to daily testing.

NFLPA wants daily testing for all players

The leagues proposal is pending approval from the NFL Players Association, but the NFLPA has been advocating daily testing for vaccinated and non vaccinated players alike. In a statement to ESPN, the NFLPA tracked back to last year stating, "The covid environment is constantly changing and our success last year was built not only on a foundation of cooperation, but more importantly, on listening to our experts. It is clear with what we know about the Delta variant and with what we have seen already with clubs, testing needs to be a greater focal point."

According to NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills nearly 93% of the league’s players are fully or partially vaccinated, while staff members around the league are almost all vaccinated.

Positive cases much more prevalent with unvaccinated players

Of the over 7,000 tests conducted from August 1st to the 21st there have been 68 positive test produced around the NFL. League data suggests the number of unvaccinated players that have tested positive is seven times greater that those who have been fully vaccinated.

Teams don’t just have to worry about getting their roster set for Week 1, but they are also battling to keep the virus at bay. The Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys have had their preseasons affected by covid protocols within the last week. The Titans recently reported their coach Mike Vrabel and quarterback Ryan Tannehill were among a handful of team members who tested positive at the same time.

Dr Sills: Testing won't prevent transmitting the virus

Sills denies that an “outbreak” has taken place in any of the 32 NFL franchises because there is no evidence of “ongoing spread within the club on a widespread basis.”

The NFLPA is pushing for daily testing on the grounds of last years successful season where players were tested on a day to day basis.

Sills was quick to point out, "Testing is not preventing anyone from transmitting the virus. It is one part of our mitigation strategy but it's not the key part. ... Testing is obviously something that is helpful and it can be beneficial but we try to apply it in a targeted and intelligent manner and we try to test those people that are most at risk, and that's what we'll continue to recommend. But it's not testing that will get us through this surge or the future of our season here."

Sills instead credits last season’s successful campaign to the regulations that were put in place by the NFL, and said that the wearing of masks and the avoidance of group meetings and meals were essential to keep the spread of the virus controlled.


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