The NFL dealt with the largest outbreak of COVID of the season before the 15th week. Several teams – including The Browns, Rams and Washington – have seen at least 20 players on the Reserve/COVID roster while others have dealt with smaller but still significant outbreaks among their switches. players.
The league-wide outbreak caused the NFL to be rescheduled for three games. It also caused the league to review its COVID protocols as it attempts to end the 2021 NFL season.
On Saturday, the NFL confirmed that it will, in fact, make changes to its COVID rules. Specifically, the league has been looking for a way to make it easier for vaccinated and asymptomatic players to avoid testing and stay on the field, and they seem to have found it.
What are the new rules? Here’s a breakdown of how the COVID protocol will work for the remainder of the 2021 NFL season.
MORE: A look at the NFL’s original COVID protocols for 2021
New NFL COVID rules for vaccinated players
The NFL is making some major changes to its COVID rules for vaccinated players, such as Explained in the league note. A noteworthy change is the implementation of “targeted testing” of vaccinated individuals.
Vaccinated individuals will no longer have to be tested for COVID on a weekly basis under the new targeted testing protocols. Instead, they will undergo a “strategic spot test” as defined by the NFL. If a player is found to have the COVID virus during these spot checks, the league’s medical experts will identify additional mitigation efforts to test positive. This may include additional tests.
It’s unclear how often vaccinated players will undergo these targeted tests, but it does appear to be a group test of some sort.
However, there will still be several ways in which the COVID vaccination can be tested as the season goes on. They are as follows:
- They present as symptoms. The association is implementing rigorous symptom screening at every facility as part of its renewed COVID protocols. Any vaccinated player showing symptoms of COVID will be tested and will not be allowed into the facility until a negative result comes out.
- They are a high-risk vaccination contact. If a vaccinated player comes into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID virus inside the premises, they will be required to take the test as part of the team’s contract tracking protocols. The team’s chief medical officer (CMO) determines how many days this vaccinated player must be tested for the virus, but the individual will be able to train unless they return a positive test result.
- They wish to test voluntarily. Players can either request to take the test or get a home test. They are asked to provide results immediately in case their home test is positive.
Vaccine players are tested on a weekly basis under previous NFL protocols. This new arrangement will ensure that players without symptoms will not have to be tested as frequently while the NFL deals with the Omicron variant.
NFL Game Delays: Browns-Raiders | Seahawks Rams | Eagles – WFT
What is the NFL’s COVID protocol for unvaccinated players?
The NFL is not making changes to its COVID protocols for players who are not immunized. These individuals still have to be tested daily for the virus, as they have been all season. If they test positive, they will still have to stay outside and isolated for at least 10 days. They cannot return from a 10-day quarantine unless they are asymptomatic.
In addition, players who are not immune will have to stay out of the house for five days if they are considered high-risk and in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Vaccinated players do not have to automatically miss time as close contacts; They will only be additionally tested under the league’s new protocols.
Here are more details about the NFL’s COVID protocol for unvaccinated players
- Unvaccinated individuals must be tested for COVID every day at the team facility. If a player misses even one day of testing, they will be required to test negative for COVID for five consecutive days before re-entering the facility. This is what happened to Cam Newton before the final week of the Patriots pre-season.
- Unvaccinated free agents must also test negative for five consecutive days before being allowed to enter the team facility.
- Unvaccinated players must wear masks at all times in the facility. They cannot gather in groups of more than three players and on the road “Gathering, visiting or mingling with people outside the travel group is prohibited once they reach the game city.”
- Unvaccinated individuals are subject to fines if they violate COVID protocols. This can include anything from not wearing a mask at the facility or going to an indoor concert or house party with more than 15 people.
MORE: NFL players talk about postponements related to COVID
When is a player considered to have been fully vaccinated?
The NFL has required that non-players with Level 1 and Level 2 be vaccinated and receive a COVID booster dose, but the rules for players are different. They can still be considered immune without the need to take the booster medication.
For a full vaccination, 14 days from his final dose of a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine must be removed, or 14 days from a single dose of any vaccine must be removed if he has previously had the COVID virus.