The NFL Players Association criticized the NFL in a social media post for not having daily testing of all players, something it has called for since September.
The NFL responded Wednesday afternoon, with Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, arguing daily testing has not proved an effective preventative strategy.
“We always look at all the tools we have at our disposal, and testing is one of the tools that we have at our disposal, and it’s a very useful took in certain areas,” Sills said. “But what testing doesn’t do is prevent transmission, and we’ve known that always. That was true last year, and it’s still true today. As we look at how to respond, what we’re trying to do is prevent spread within the facility and keep people from testing positive. Keeping them from testing positive takes us back to their immunity — getting the booster, getting their antibodies levels up. Spread within the facility is more about these other measures. As look at any measure, whether it’s testing, masks, etc…, we always have to look at what the impact is on that. I think it’s also important to recognize in health care we’re not going surveillance testing of asymptomatic people. We’re not testing doctors, nurses and other heath care providers, even those who work with very compromised patients, on an asymptomatic basis. Why is that? Well, because it just hasn’t been found to be effective as a preventative strategy.”
Unvaccinated players are required to test every day, but vaccinated players test only once a week. When teams enter enhanced protocols, every player tests every day. Sills said five teams currently are in enhanced protocols.
“We’ve got multiple examples where someone tested negative on one day, tested positive the following day and was able to spread to others in that 24-hour window,” Sills said. “We saw that last year, and we saw that this year. I think that tells you once again, testing doesn’t prevent transmission. You have to rely on those other measures to make sure we’re not creating spread within our facility.”
Some 100 players have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, including 31 on Wednesday.
The league is focused on preventative strategies, Sills said, encouraging players to get booster shots, to social distance and to wear masks.