As circumstances change, protocols change, too.
Via Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the NFL Players Association has informed its members that it plans to propose to the league daily testing of all vaccinated players and staff.
Currently, vaccinated players and staff are tested once every 14 days. In recent weeks, however, it has become more and more clear that vaccinated individuals can still catch — and more importantly transmit — the Delta variant of the virus.
The union also is advocating other potential steps that would make 2021 more like 2020.
“In the event of an apparent virus spread among a club, masking may be required for all players and staff, regardless of vaccination status,” the memo explains. “This is similar to the intensive protocols last year and designed to prevent an outbreak.”
It’s a smart approach, one that reflects the flexibility that will be critical to beating this situation once and for all.
“We have consistently stated that football will go the way of our communities, and multiple cities and states are experiencing record surges in infections and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant,” the NFLPA memo explains.
The league, however, may not be ready to accept (or perhaps to pay for) a return to daily testing for all players and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
“Our approach is always to be flexible and adaptable and open to what the data is showing us,” NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said on a Wednesday evening teleconference with reporters. “So we’re going to follow the data in regards to everything in our protocol, including the frequency of testing and mask guidance and so forth. We are doing obviously more frequent testing in subpopulations right now. We’re testing unvaccinated individuals every day.”
One of the inducements to persuade players to get vaccinated came from the reality of reduced testing. But that was hardly a bait-and-switch tactic. If vaccinated players and staff can catch it and pass it around, they should be subjected to the quick and easy (and accurate) Mesa test before being allowed into the building, each and every day.