With at least two weeks of daily testing for at least 120 employees per team, the NFL will be consuming at least 3,840 COVID-19 tests per day. That’s 26,880 per week for at least the first two weeks of camp.
So will the NFL’s testing requirements drain testing resources that otherwise could or would be utilized by members of the general public in a given city?
According to a source familiar with the league’s program and policy, the NFL believes that its approach to testing won’t infringe on the local testing requirements, even in cities that currently are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks.
The league’s confidence comes from the fact that it has made independent arrangements with a national firm, which will keep teams from competing for any locally-available resources. Although, in theory, any testing capacity utilized by the NFL’s teams could be devoted to others, the league is specifically creating its own testing capacity via its arrangement with BioReference Laboratories, which is expanding its capacity to meet the NFL’s demand. Absent the enhanced demand, BioReference Laboratories wouldn’t be expanding its capacity.
Of course, BioReference Laboratories would be free to expand its capacity to ensure that anyone/everyone who uses its services gets their results within a 24-hours period. But BioReferences Laboratories is a private company, owned by a publicly-traded corporation with a clear and obvious profit motive. If a client like the NFL will be paying a significant amount of money to have a significant number of tests collected and analyzed within 24 hours, BioReference Laboratories has a clear incentive to make the service available.
As to the 24-hour turnaround for testing from NFL teams, that could change based on the overall demands on the national testing apparatus. The league would fall in line behind critical-care patients and health-care workers, if the national system becomes overrun. Currently, that isn’t an issue.