The NFL implemented a series of improved protocols Thursday that teams can follow after exposure to the COVID-19 virus as it navigates through an outbreak among the Tennessee Titans and potential transmission to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings, who have yet to return a positive test result after playing the Titans last Sunday, used the protocols after reopening their facility and practice on Thursday.
The improved protocols include two daily tests; one is the traditional PCR (nasal grafting) test and the other is a POC (point of care) test that gives faster results. All Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees must test negative on the POC test before entering the facility.
PPE and face masks must also be worn by all players and coaches on the training field, and gloves must be worn by all except quarterbacks on their throwing hand. All meetings must be virtual and there will also be daily deep cleanings of the facility. The protocols also include a ban on team or player gatherings away from the facility.
NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills will decide if and for how long the protocols after exposure should be followed. Whether exposed or not, all NFL employees were urged by the memo to “act as if any person you come in contact with has a COVID infection and take appropriate precautions.”
On Monday, several Las Vegas Raiders performed at a fundraising event hosted by Raider Darren Waller at a country club in a Las Vegas suburb. Players were seen on video without masks at the indoor event while talking and mingling with guests who were not wearing masks either. The league said it was investigating the incident and the players have apologized.
A total of 13 Titans employees, including six players, have returned positive tests for COVID-19 in the past week. The Titans’ game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later this season.