NFL and NFLPA agree to major changes to COVID testing guidelines


The NFL made sweeping changes to its COVID-19 testing protocols on Saturday, in which asymptomatic vaccinated players will only be subjected to random spot testing for the remainder of the season.

Had these new guidelines been in place, the Raiders’ game against the Cleveland Browns, which was moved from Saturday to Monday after about two dozen vaccinated Browns players tested positive for COVID-19 this week, would have been played as expected.

The new guidelines appear to be in response to the Raiders-Browns plight, as well as games for the Rams and Seahawks and the Washington and Philadelphia Eagles football team that were moved this weekend after an outbreak of COVID-19 test positive among Rams and WFT players.

The less stringent guidelines should help ensure the remainder of the NFL season continues as planned. The new testing guidelines are the combined effort of the NFL and the players’ union.

In a memo sent to 32 NFL teams and obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the league described a less intrusive testing approach for vaccinated players while maintaining strict protocols for unvaccinated players.

In the note, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the recent escalation in positive tests could be the result of the less intrusive Omicron variant.

“Medical information strongly indicates that this variant is significantly more contagious but possibly less severe than previous variants, especially for people who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “Our experience with the Omicron variant is very much in line with this expectation – while more players and staff test positive, around two-thirds of these individuals are asymptomatic, most of the remaining individuals only have mild symptoms and the virus appears to eliminate positive individuals. faster than was the case with the Delta or earlier variants. In many ways, Omicron appears to be a very different disease than the one we first encountered in the spring of 2020. ”

Goodell also stressed the importance for players and staff to get booster shots and the league will continue to educate players on the benefits of receiving booster shots, if they are eligible. He added that most of the team’s staff (level 1 and level 2) will need to be reminded by December 27.

The Raiders have expressed frustration with the postponement of their two-day game, especially after being told of the change as they boarded the airport buses for their flight to Cleveland on Friday. With his team still in the thick of the playoff race, owner Mark Davis felt the last-second audible hurt the Raiders.

“I want to make it clear that health and safety is the top priority,” Davis said. “But the way it happened puts us at a complete competitive disadvantage for a number of reasons.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at [email protected] To follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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