An unusually high number of positive COVID-19 tests Monday has the NFL and NFLPA considering further changes to its COVID protocols as the NFL’s regular season enters its final four weeks.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the league had 37 positive COVID tests Monday. These numbers tend to be higher on Mondays because that’s when most teams test their vaccinated players and personnel (who only have to be tested once a week, unlike unvaccinated players, who test daily). But to put Monday’s number into perspective, consider than the league only had 72 positive tests in a two-week stretch from Nov. 14-27.
One source told ESPN that Monday’s positives included one case of the Omicron variant in Washington and that at least five teams — the Atlanta Falcons, the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings, the Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears — have entered the league’s enhanced COVID protocols, which require daily testing regardless of vaccination status, mandatory masking at team facilities and other stringent measures.
The positive case of the Omicron variant in Washington was a Tier 3 employee, who had limited contact with other members of the organization, sources told Schefter.
The NFLPA has continued to push for daily testing for all players and personnel, regardless of vaccination status, as a means of identifying and tracking cases earlier and preventing spread in team facilities. The league has resisted the union’s calls for daily testing, saying resources can be better directed at different parts of the COVID fight and that daily testing could lead to a false sense of security and less strict adherence to the other protocols.
It’s unclear what sorts of changes to the protocols the league and union might make, as those discussions were just beginning in light of Monday’s news. Expecting a surge in positive cases following the Thanksgiving holiday, the league and union did put in place stricter measures for the week that immediately followed Thanksgiving.