Another change has been made to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, which will take place immediately and remain in place for the remainder of the postseason. The NFL has sent a memo detailing the update, which includes removing the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated players, and an end to the requirement for the latter group to be tested daily (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero).
[Related: NFL, NFLPA Modify COVID Protocols]
As the insider further explains, the changes have been made in conjunction with the NFLPA as more data on the Omicron variant emerges. The most recent changes, implemented in December, have involved targeted testing of symptomatic players and staff members, along with a five-day return rule. Now, tests will only be conducted for players and personnel who have symptoms, or those who are included in random testing.
The memo reads, in part, “This comprehensive, symptom-based approach to testing reflects our recent experience with the Omicron variant and conforms to current public health recommendations and best practices employed in healthcare, and offers the best opportunity for identifying and treating cases promptly and avoiding spread within the facility“.
As Pelissero and others have noted, there are roughly a dozen players on the remaining eight playoff teams, so these changes will directly affect only a small group. Still, even players who have tested positive within the 90 day ‘holiday’ period remain under the same symptom-based testing rules, so the possibility remains for anyone who reports symptoms to miss a playoff game.