On Thursday, the National Football League and the NFL Players Association agreed to new rules that put the league’s 32 teams in restrictive protocols until Monday. It follows a nearly doubling of Covid-19 cases among players earlier this week.
More testing will be required from Dec. 26 to Jan. 8, and masks will be required for players, coaches and staff on the bench, as well as in the locker room, weight room and training room and when traveling with the teams, according to the note.
Wojnarowski, citing the memo, also reported that if a player received a booster shot more than two weeks ago, “he will not be subject to holiday or gameday tests.”
DailyExpertNews has reached out to the NBA and the players’ association for comment.
The rise in cases has already caused headaches for teams in professional sports.
While the NFL has not postponed or canceled any games, several teams lost key players who were on the reserve/Covid-19 list. The NBA has postponed two games so far, while the pandemic has caused the National Hockey League to postpone 10 games so far.
On Thursday, an NHL game was played in Montreal without fans being present.
The Canadiens organization said Quebec officials made the request based on “the surging rise in COVID-19 cases in the region”.
The team said the games will be played in January with the arena having a 50% capacity.
Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations in the United States are on the rise again, with a seven-day average of 118,717 new cases per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That is 40% higher than a month ago.
Unrest among players
An NFL source told DailyExpertNews that 28 NFL players tested positive for the new coronavirus on Tuesday and 37 tested positive among players on Monday.
The two-day total is more than double the 29 positive player tests between Nov. 14 and 27, the NFL’s latest publicly released test data.
DailyExpertNews has contacted the league for an updated number of positive cases.
Under the new NFL protocol, teams must again impose restrictions such as requiring masks to be worn inside team facilities, social distancing, takeout meals in team cafeterias, limits on the number of people allowed in gyms, restrictions on activities outside the facility, including dining out on the go and fully virtual meetings.
And at least one player isn’t happy about it at all. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, one of more than a dozen Browns on the reserve/Covid-19 list, spoke out ahead of his team’s scheduled game Saturday against the Las Vegas Raiders.
In another tweet, Mayfield wrote: “Actually caring about player safety would mean delaying the game while it continues at the pace it is.”
The Browns play against the Las Vegas Raiders in Cleveland on Saturday.
DailyExpertNews has asked the Browns for an updated number of players on the reserve/Covid-19 list. There were 14 players on Wednesday, but it was unclear when all the test results were known.
In addition, the Washington Football team has 21 players on the list and the Los Angeles Rams 25. An NFL roster consists of 53 players.
The NFL describes the Reserve/Covid-19 list as being for players who either test positive for Covid-19 or have been quarantined after being in close contact with an infected person or persons.
NFL medical chief says two-thirds of players with positive tests were asymptomatic
The NFL has no plans for the time being to postpone the Browns-Raiders game, Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters at an NFL meeting in Irving, Texas.
“We are confident that with continued changes and adjustments to our protocols, we can do just that,” Goodell said Wednesday.
The league and players’ union have also made changes to allow fully vaccinated asymptomatic players to “test” the quarantine and return to training and matches more quickly.
The NFL offered three testing options for a fully vaccinated person to return, provided they have been asymptomatic for at least 24 hours. The return of a person from quarantine is possible from the day after his or her first positive test, according to the updated protocols.
Before the update, fully vaccinated individuals had to return two negative tests 24 hours apart to be activated from the reserve/Covid-19 list.
Fully vaccinated individuals continue to test weekly and unvaccinated individuals daily.
NFL officials said in a statement that the protocols have evolved and the new ones reflect the increasing cases in the league and the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
Some NFL players who tested positive for the coronavirus had the variant, said NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills Wednesday. He also said that two-thirds of players with positive tests were asymptomatic and others had mild symptoms “that under normal circumstances might not even lead them to seek a test.”
On December 2, the league stated that 94.4% of players had been fully vaccinated, along with “almost 100%” of other NFL personnel. The NFL, like other sports leagues, does not mandate that players be vaccinated.
“I think everyone is completely focused on how we stay safe, how we do that in the best possible way,” Goodell said. “Dr. Sills has been consistent, as well as the NFLPA’s medical experts and our independent experts, the best way to do that is vaccines and boosters. That’s not a complete mechanism, but it’s certainly the best way to do it. “
The NFL said earlier this week that coaches and staffers who interact with players must receive a booster shot before December 27.
Jacob Lev of DailyExpertNews contributed to this report.