The NFL has compressed the isolation timeframe for asymptomatic COVID-positive players.
COVID-19 has devastated the NFL — and the country, for that matter — in recent weeks amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.
In light of this outbreak, the CDC has released new guidelines that compress the isolation timeframe for asymptomatic COVID-positive individuals from 10 days to five. As a result, the NFL has adopted this measure and applied it to its own COVID protocols, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Now, players who have tested positive for the lingering virus but are asymptomatic could possibly return in five days, regardless of vaccination status.
NFL and NFLPA now have adopted the new CDC guidelines that reduce the quarantine time to 5 days from 10 days for all Covid positive players who are asymptomatic, including those who are unvaccinated, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 28, 2021
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports 24 hours also need to have passed since your last fever and you must receive clearance from your respective team doctor if you’re unvaccinated.
Note that return to play isn't contingent on being asymptomatic. You need:
– 5 days since initial positive swab
– At least 24 hours since last fever
– Other symptoms (e.g. cough) "resolved or improved"
– Cleared by team doctor in consultation with ICS and NFL
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 28, 2021
Previously, unvaccinated players who tested positive needed to miss at least 10 days, regardless of whether they were showing symptoms. Vaccinated players can still test out in fewer than five days by producing two consecutive negative tests.
Hey, NFL…why now?
Well, with many players going on the Reserve/COVID-19 list (regardless of vaccination status), the product the NFL has put on the field (and our televisions) has declined. The issue has recently affected teams such as the Saints (Ian Book started at quarterback Monday), the Jets (Robert Saleh couldn’t coach the team Sunday), and Washington (Garrett Gilbert started at quarterback in Week 15).
There’s concern this issue could implicate the upcoming postseason in an incredibly negative way — imagine a starting quarterback not being able to play in a playoff game despite being asymptomatic? In that situation, a backup quarterback would need to suddenly play in a postseason matchup — the league does not want that.
The new guidelines are expected to at least soften the blow this current outbreak has introduced.
Teams placed a record of 106 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday; all tested positive. On Tuesday, teams placed 39 players (all positive tests) on COVID lists (34 on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, five on the Practice Squad/COVID-19 list).
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY