As we’ve noted, the NFL and NFLPA are running out of time to hammer out plans for training camp, with the NFL’s lack of concrete plans to this point looming large over the proceedings. For things go to off as scheduled—and teams are due to report to training camp on Tuesday, July 28th—plans will have to come together quickly.
I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but I do know the two sides have hammered out an agreement on at least one important item: Testing.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to daily COVID-19 testing for the first 2 weeks of camp, after which they’ll look at positivity rates. If the rate drops below 5% for players and Tier 1/Tier 2 individuals, they’ll move to every other day. Important deal as talks continue on other issues.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
Players will need multiple negative tests before they’re allowed to be in the building for physicals or team activities. That’s a lesson the NFL has taken from other pro leagues: Take it slow. NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills says test results expected within 24 hours.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
One other point worth noting on daily testing: The NFL contracted with a national lab to make sure their testing needs didn’t take resources away from local markets, which Dr. Sills said was "a driving force for us." No negative impact on local supply for hospitals, etc.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
One of the critical pieces of playing NFL football this season will be fielding enough healthy players, which in turn hinges on robust testing to ensure players who do get COVID-19 are tested and quarantined before they have the chance to spread it to potentially dozens of other players and team staffers.
There appears to be a plan for what happens when a positive test happens, as well:
It’s hard to believe the NFL can handle daily testing for every player when testing has been a relative struggle outside of professional sports, but they do have the money and will to get things done, and if it’s agreed to it must have been deemed feasible. The NFL appears to have heard criticism that it was twiddling its thumbs (or it just hadn’t publicly divulged these plans, take your pick), because this is at least further along than the last week of dithering and angry players would suggest.
The second tweet, which I added a few moments ago, is also critical. Players can’t test negative just once, which means players are likely going to need to be tested ahead of camp if they’re not going to be effectively sequestered for the early part of camp.
We’ll see if the league can clear more hurdles in the next week, but this does feel like an important one for players to feel comfortable showing up to camp. Hopefully there will be more agreements hammered out in the days ahead.