The NFL will extend its daily COVID-19 testing period through Sept. 5, the NFLPA announced. This comes after the league declared the positive test rate of Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals to be lower than 1%. The league and the union’s original daily testing agreement ran through August 19. When the parties agreed on that time window, the agreement was they would move to every-other-day testing if the positive rate ended up below 5% in that period. But the sides made a preemptive move to err on the side of caution.
New protocols will also include players who test positive undergoing an EKG, blood tests for heart function and an echocardiogram, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). Heart complications are now being associated with COVID-19. Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez encountered a heart issue after he contracted the virus, and part of the reasoning behind the Big Ten postponing its season stemmed from at least 10 conference players battling myocarditis — a rare condition featuring inflammation of the heart muscle — according to The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach (subscription required).
Here is the latest on the league’s battle with the coronavirus:
- Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn revealed during the first episode of Hard Knocks he contracted COVID-19 earlier in the offseason. The fourth-year Bolts HC experienced symptoms. He is the third head coach known to have contracted the virus, following Sean Payton and Doug Pederson.
- The Big Ten and Pac-12 attempting to play spring football may now prompt the NFL to change its mind regarding the draft. The NFL “would have to” consider moving off its late-April draft date if colleges play their seasons in the spring, Maske tweets. Last month, the NFL’s stance was firm on keeping the draft in April. But with conferences taking last-resort measures of postponing seasons indefinitely, the league appears to be understandably changing its tune. No NFL draft has occurred before a college season’s conclusion since the 1960s.
- Add Washington to the list of teams who will play home games without fans this season. The franchise announced the decision Wednesday. Washington, however, added that this policy would be subject to change if the conditions surrounding the pandemic improve over the course of the season. Washington joins the Giants, Jets and Raiders as teams to announce their home games will not involve spectators.
- Other teams have not given up on having fans at games. The Chiefs, Cowboys and Patriots are among teams working on a pod system, which has gained the most traction among potential solutions, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweets. The goal of this unusual setup would be to place clusters of masked fans together at different sections of stadiums, Robinson adds (on Twitter). Considering the social distancing component in COVID-19 safety recommendations, this would be an interesting setup. But a month away from the season, most teams’ attendance plans still appear fluid.