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Aligning with new CDC guidance, NFL shortens COVID isolation time from ten days to five

New guidance from the federal government has impacted the NFL

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

As long as you’re asymptomatic, you can return to your team in as little as five days following a COVID-19 positive test under a new agreement announced by the NFL and NFLPA. This puts the league in line with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control released this week.

The new rules apply for both vaccinated and unvaccinated players and a doctor needs to sign off on the return.

The previous time frame was ten days of isolation. That’s been altered to five days of isolation plus five days of required masking, again regardless of vaccination status.

Obviously this is going to rely at least partly on NFL players and staff self-reporting symptoms to their teams. Team doctors will administer temperature checks as part of the re-entry to the team facility.

This has big implications around the league, but specifically for the Buffalo Bills, it could mean all the players on their COVID-19 list could be back this week. While it was originally expected that unvaccinated WR Gabe Davis would miss the game during his ten-day isolation following his positive test, now he can return as long as he’s asymptomatic for 24 hours. It’s been eight days since unvaccinated WR Cole Beasley tested positive and he can return as soon as he’s symptom-free. Under the old deal, he would have had to wait until Friday.

Practice squad TE Quintin Morris and active roster players DE A.J. Epenesa, OL Jon Feliciano, and OL Cody Ford can all return as soon as they are symptom-free now as it’s been five days.

The only player not out of the five-day window is Cam Lewis, who was placed on the COVID list Monday. If he wants to play on Sunday, he will need to test out with consecutive negative results.

UPDATE: The Bills did indeed activate the majority of their COVID-positive players on Wednesday.