Sports | November 19, 2020 9:52 am

NFL Imposing “Intensive” COVID-19 Protocol on All 32 Teams Amid Second Surge

Since August, 95 players and 175 other personnel have tested positive for the virus

NFL Imposing "Intensive" COVID-19 Protocol on All 32 Teams Amid Second Surge
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell looks on before Super Bowl LIV.
Getty Images

Amid a rise in new COVID-19 cases across the U.S., the NFL is imposing more aggressive health and safety regulations on all 32 teams starting on Saturday in order to prevent games from being postponed or canceled.

Under the new “intensive” protocol, players and coaches must have a confirmed negative PCR from the previous day before entering a team facility and all meetings must be held virtually, outdoors or indoors with a pre-approved plan. All personnel must wear face masks at all times, including during practice, and entering the locker room, except on game days, is strongly discouraged.

Ahead of Thanksgiving next week, the protocol also prohibits team or player gatherings away from an organization’s facility.

So far, 28 teams have entered the intensive protocol at some point during the season, and the league has determined it reduces close contacts by more than 50 percent.

“The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to teams on Wednesday. “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.”

Since August 1, 95 players and 175 other personnel have tested positive for COVID-19. A good number of those positive tests have come during testing from November 8-14, a period during which there were 17 new confirmed positives among players and 35 among other personnel.

“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,” Goodell wrote. “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.”

The news comes as the Las Vegas Raiders currently have 11 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, four days before the Raiders are scheduled to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.