NFL: Players, Staff Exposed to COVID-19 Must Quarantine at Least 5 Days

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIIOctober 13, 2020

An NFL football sits on the Seattle Seahawks sideline before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The NFL unveiled new COVID-19 guidelines Tuesday in an effort to eliminate outbreaks across the league. 

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, NFL and NFLPA protocols now mandate players who are exposed to any individual confirmed to have COVID-19 must isolate for no less than five days before returning to team facilities, regardless of PCR test results. 

Players must test negative for the coronavirus each day during quarantine and receive approval by the NFL Chief Medical Officer prior to rejoining their teams.

A five-day minimum would help players avoid missing games in theory, yet as Pelissero notes, it may be a bit more complicated. 

If a player tests positive on a Tuesday or Wednesday between games, the likelihood of missing at least one contest remains high. 

Per an NFL memo: 

"Such individuals shall be identified as a "High Risk" Close Contact if they have had exposure to the confirmed positive individual that the NFL Chief Medical Officer, in consultation with those as set forth above, concludes represents a higher than normal risk of exposure due to the duration, proximity or other circumstances of the interaction with the confirmed positive. Such "High Risk" Close Contact must be isolated immediately..." 

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The change comes as teams across the NFL experience varying levels of outbreaks within team facilities. The Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs have all had employees test positive since the season began, forcing the league to rapidly shift its season schedule to accommodate the health and safety of players and staffers. 

Both the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to adapt COVID-19 protocols as needed throughout the season with Tuesday serving as the latest example. 

By isolating "High Risk" close contacts of anyone who tests positive, the league is attempting to clamp down on a potential outbreak before it spreads.