NFL: “Unlikely, but possible” a positive COVID-19 result would emerge during a game

USA TODAY Sports

With Major League Baseball removing Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner during the eighth inning of last night’s World Series game based on a positive COVID-19 test, an obvious question arises: Could something similar happen for the NFL?

With all players (as of Week Six) receiving game-day PCR testing that is analyzed off site, the specific question is whether the results would become available during a game played at night and, if so, what the league would do about it.

“Game day tests for night games are conducted in mid- to late-morning,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy explained to PFT via email. “For the most part, it’s unlikely, but possible to get a result before or during the game.”

One major factor when it comes to test results continues to be proximity to the lab. The closer the lab, the shorter the trip, the greater the likelihood that a positive result would be returned during a night game.

McCarthy added that a player who has a positive test returned during a game would be “immediately” pulled from the game. The player then would be prevented from returning to the field, for the game or for any type of celebration.

“There are isolation rooms set up in each stadium and team facility,” McCarthy said. “If a player or Club employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 for the first time while inside the facility, that individual must be placed in a mask and immediately isolated in a separate room with a closed door. Team medical personnel and security would ensure the individual does not come into contact with other individuals.”

Thus, in the unlikely event a positive result would emerge during a game, the player would be removed from the game and placed in an isolation room. Medical and security personnel then would keep the player from leaving the isolation room.

So a Justin Turner situation could happen for the NFL, but the player would not be part of any celebration or other interaction, even if his team wins the Super Bowl.