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NFL Adds Mask Requirement, Increases Covid Testing

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The N.F.L. strengthened its Covid-19 protocols because the variety of optimistic circumstances rises throughout the nation and folks make plans to convene for Thanksgiving, and really useful facilitating testing for households of gamers and different staff.

Every particular person, no matter their vaccination standing, should put on masks inside staff services between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, and all gamers, coaches and assist workers additionally have to be examined for the coronavirus on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, after the Thanksgiving weekend.

This season, unvaccinated gamers and soccer workers within the league’s Tier 1 designation, probably the most important personnel, have to be examined on daily basis. Those who’re vaccinated have to be examined at the least as soon as per week, and probably extra if they’re symptomatic or have an in depth contact with somebody who exams optimistic.

With Wednesday’s replace to the protocols, unvaccinated gamers should wait for his or her outcomes earlier than coming into a staff facility, whereas vaccinated gamers and workers can enter their services, however should stay masked whereas they await outcomes.

In a memo despatched to all 32 groups Tuesday night time, the league additionally urged golf equipment to arrange drive-through testing services for gamers, workers and any family and friends who could go to them for the vacation.

The league additionally reminded its groups of present prohibitions aimed toward lowering potential publicity to the coronavirus. Unvaccinated gamers are to not collect in teams of greater than three individuals outdoors of the staff facility; go to a nightclub or bar the place greater than 10 persons are current; attend live shows and different occasions; or attend events in houses the place there are greater than 15 individuals, if all of them don’t put on masks.

Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, mentioned the N.F.L. tightened restrictions as a result of the league noticed its highest variety of confirmed optimistic coronavirus exams within the earlier two weeks. “That wasn’t a total surprise to us because our numbers mirror the number of cases in the country,” he mentioned.

Between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13, there have been 81 confirmed optimistic circumstances within the N.F.L., 34 gamers and 47 workers, probably the most in any two-week interval this season. The gamers affected included high-profile starters like Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Los Angeles Chargers defensive finish Joey Bosa, and Cleveland Browns working again Nick Chubb.

In the prior two-week interval, there have been 35 confirmed optimistic circumstances, together with 11 gamers.

In the United States, there have been greater than 85,000 optimistic circumstances per day on common within the 14-day interval that ended Tuesday, an 18 p.c enhance, in accordance with knowledge collected by The New York Times. The variety of circumstances has risen quickest within the Midwest and Northeast, the place cooler temperatures are driving individuals to spend extra time indoors.

About 94 p.c of all gamers and almost all coaches and workers are vaccinated, in accordance with the N.F.L., so a lot of the league’s contaminated personnel have had milder signs. Sills mentioned Wednesday there has not been any uncontrolled unfold of the virus inside staff services, and that in some gentle circumstances vaccinated gamers, coaches and workers have been capable of return in fewer than the prescribed 10 days as a result of they examined damaging twice in a two-day interval.

Jeff Miller, a league spokesman, mentioned the implementation of the tighter protocols was not in response to Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers’ unvaccinated quarterback, who examined optimistic for coronavirus two weeks in the past and was later fined $14,650 for failing to comply with Covid-19 protocols agreed on by the league and the gamers’ union.

The Packers have been fined $300,000 for failing to watch whether or not gamers adhered to the rules.

To implement the toughened protocols, the league mentioned it might be “periodically reviewing footage from surveillance cameras in club facilities” and penalizing gamers and golf equipment “as warranted.” Teams should set up cameras of their weight rooms and cafeterias and should preserve the video from these cameras for 30 days in case the league must overview it.