Dr. Allen Sills: Sick NFL Players Must Isolate Even with Negative COVID-19 Tests

Jenna CiccotelliContributor IIIOctober 16, 2020

FILE- In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, speaks during a news conference at the at the football league's fall meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The NFL's chief medical officer says it's not surprising there have been positive tests for COVID-19 among players reporting to training camp because the disease is cutting across football just as it has through societies around the world. Players currently have to pass COVID-19 testing before they are allowed into training camp. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said the league is requiring players and team staff who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate even if they test negative for the virus, per ESPN's Kevin Seifert

According to Seifert, there is no timetable for the return of players who miss time due to the policy—Sills said they will be tested for the flu and other illnesses and judged on a "case-by-case basis." Sills said on a conference call with the media that it was better to exhibit caution rather than allow the virus to spread: 

"We're always going to err on the side of safety and we're going to support the medical judgment of the medical staff. Everyone has the same goal here and that's to operate as safely as we can. ... When you look at the big picture, our goal is to make sure we don't put someone on the field that we think might be actively infected. If we're going to make a mistake, we would rather make a mistake on the side of being cautious and keeping people off the field. If it turns out that those were non-COVID symptoms, I think we would all be happy with that outcome."

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweeted out a step-by-step approach the league will follow:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Here is the treatment rubric for people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Dr. Sills says how this timeline is applied depends on multiple factors, including alternative diagnoses (e.g. strep). "When in doubt, we’re gonna go with the most conservative" approach. https://t.co/TmXyXPHHNv

Seifert reported that Cleveland Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. left the Browns facility with an illness on Thursday, and Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson did not practice as a result of a non-COVID illness. The league is continuing to test all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees for the virus daily. 

"Just because someone has one negative test, we can't say that they're absolutely not infected," Sills said.