In a league memo that was sent around to all NFL teams on Friday, the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) announced that they have tweaked their COVID testing procedures. The memo stated that this is an attempt to ensure that false-positive tests are not mixed in with active infections. And based on what sources are telling PFN’s NFL Insider Tony Pauline, this might be a step in the right direction.
Featured | Valdovinos’ 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
According to the COVID testing memo, the policy will apply to any Tier 1 or Tier 2 employees, including all players and coaches. If an employee at this level produces a positive test but is asymptomatic and has no known history of coronavirus infection, the league will require two additional tests within 24 hours. During that time, this person would still be kept isolated outside the team facility. But if both of those tests come back negative, that person will be able to proceed as usual.
Sources have told Pauline that players are not happy with the process
According to Pauline, many players are upset about being placed on the COVID list due to false-positives. Pauline notes that San Francisco 49ers WR Richie James and Dallas Cowboys CB Saivion Smith are two such examples. We also saw Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford be placed on the list due to a false-positive, which set off a fiery reaction from his wife, Kelly, after she and her children were targeted at school, on playgrounds, and other places.
“…I understand where they are coming from, but I blame the NFL. I blame the NFL for not holding themselves accountable. These are people’s lives and livelihoods that are in those results in their test sites. Maybe we should be absolutely positive a person has COVID before releasing that info to the world. I’m sharing our experience because I don’t want it happening to any other family that plays for this league…”
Multiple sources have told Pauline that a 95% accuracy rate is just not good enough and that something needs to change. Now, it appears that at least the NFLPA and NFL are working towards tweaking the process.
Dr. Allen Sills speaks to reporters on conference call
According to Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, the league has conducted more than 75,000 tests since training camps have opened. In a conference call to reporters, he noted they are always looking to evolve their testing policies and procedures whenever the data and evidence support it.
“We’ve always wanted to make sure that we provide the most accurate test results,” Sills said. “In doing 75,000 tests over the first two weeks, you collect a lot of learning. We’re constantly looking at all aspects of the protocol, how we can make it better. And we’re also constantly learning what these test results mean and how we can interpret them and how they match up with the clinical correlation.
“What we’re trying to do here is be really, radically transparent. We’re trying to tell you, ‘This is what we’re learning and seeing in real time, here are the steps we’re making to adjust.’ And I expect that process to continue over the course of this season.”
While Sills would not confirm the exact number of players who have tested positive – it’s been reported by the NFLPA that there have been 56 players thus far – he did say they are continuing to look at the testing data to determine how many positive test results actually represent new infections. Through it all though, he noted that there is still a lot of learning to do.
“We and others are clearly learning that not every single positive test means a new case of COVID infection,” said Sills, as cited by the Washington Post.