The NFL has a problem. In Cleveland, in Washington, in Los Angeles and around the league, players are testing positive for COVID-19 following the Thanksgiving holiday. There has been a spike as the weather turns colder, coupled with waning immunity due to the final dose of vaccination series being more than six months ago in many cases.
In response, the NFL is changing their policies in facilities around the league. They specifically cited the Omicron variant in their press release.
“Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel.”
While the NFL can’t mandate booster shots for NFL players because that would need to be collectively bargained, they have already mandated all the remainder of Tier 2 and Tier 1 personnel receive another dose of the COVID vaccine.
The NFL also announced they are altering the return-to-play procedures, allowing non-symptomatic players who have tested positive to return to the field after two negative tests. Both of those tests can be administered at the same time now instead of waiting 24 hours between tests and players can now be tested every day following a positive test instead of waiting.
The majority of players who have recently tested positive were and are asymptomatic, so this will allow them back on the field sooner.
Fully vaccinated individuals will continue to be tested weekly while unvaccinated players are tested daily.
The NFL also announced this week that starting in the playoffs, they will allow an unlimited number of practice squad call-ups. In the regular season, you can only be called up twice before you must pass through waivers.