NFL Teams to Enter COVID-19 Intensive Protocol for Rest of Season on Saturday

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2020

A view of a field goal post pad during an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)
Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

All 32 NFL teams will enter the league's intensive COVID-19 protocol with cases of the coronavirus spiking around the country, according to Judy Battista of NFL.com. 

Those protocols include:

"...All players and coaches must have a negative from the previous day's testing before entering the facility, in addition to regular daily PCR testing, all meetings being held virtually unless they can be held outdoors or indoors with a pre-approved plan, and for face masks being worn at all times at the facility, including on the practice field by all personnel. All meals must be served in grab-and-go style to prevent people from congregating in meal rooms. Locker room use is strongly discouraged on non-game days."

NFL teams and players are also prohibited from holding large gatherings away from team facilities. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the decision to enact the protocols league wide in a memo sent to teams Wednesday:

"The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now. Because we have a highly sophisticated program of daily testing, we know when the virus enters our facilities, which underscores the importance of contact tracing and other steps to minimize close contacts within a facility. Recent experience has highlighted the importance of minimizing high-risk close contacts; on multiple occasions, we have seen individuals identified on that basis test positive within a short time. We have also seen many instances in which effective action by clubs to minimize these close contacts prevented the virus from spreading within the club, and avoided players or coaches being ruled out of practice or games."

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That follows comments from NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills on Tuesday, who said that the majority of new positive cases among players and staff members on teams are originating from outside of the NFL community:

Per Battista, 28 NFL teams have been put in the NFL's intensive protocol at some point this season to help curb any potential coronavirus breakouts. With the exception of the large breakout the Tennessee Titans had earlier in the season, the league has generally managed to avoid another such breakout and hasn't had to reschedule any games for the past five weeks.