NFL, NFLPA Agree to Daily COVID-19 Testing Plan Ahead of Training Camps

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJuly 20, 2020

The gold colored NFL emblem is shown on the 25 yard line during an NFL football game between the New York Jets andDallas Cowboys on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

The National Football League and the NFL Players Association reached an agreement Monday on daily testing for COVID-19.

Increased testing had been one of the main points that players demanded during a Twitter campaign Sunday that featured numerous stars across the league calling for clearly defined health and safety measures this season. 

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, teams will conduct daily testing for the first two weeks of training camp, which is set to open leaguewide on July 28. Rookies, quarterbacks and some individual athletes are slated to arrive earlier. 

Daily testing may be extended following the two-week period if the positivity rate for players is above 5 percent, according to Pelissero. If the rate falls below that threshold, testing will move to every other day for "Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals."

"Players will need multiple negative tests before they’re allowed to be in the building for physicals or team activities," Pelissero tweeted. "That’s a lesson the NFL has taken from other pro leagues: Take it slow. NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills says test results expected within 24 hours."

The league has also confirmed it will not take away any testing resources from individual communities. 

Here's what to expect should a player contract COVID-19, per Judy Battista of NFL.com:

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"If a player tests positive but has no symptoms, he can return to the facility 10 days after the initial positive test or if he receives two consecutive negative tests within five days of the initial positive test. If the player has a positive test and symptoms, he can return after at least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared and at least 72 hours have passed since he last experienced symptoms.

"Players who have close contact with someone who has symptoms will be tested and isolated as soon as possible. If the test is negative, and the player continues to have no symptoms, he may return to the facility but will have increased symptom monitoring and more frequent testing. If the player has close contact with someone who has a positive COVID-19 test, he will be tested and even if the test is negative and the player has no symptoms, he would need a second negative test before being allowed to return."

Battista notes the NFL will conduct contract tracing, which requires players to wear proximity recording devices during all team activities. The NBA is trying a similar tactic as players gather in Orlando, Florida, for the restart of the 2019-20 season.  

Despite Monday's developments, Sills said on a conference call that these measures do not make the league immune from the pandemic, and protocols are likely to change throughout the season.  

"We cannot test our way to safety," Sills said, according to Battista.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported additional agreements on healthy and safety measures between the league and union are "getting closer."