NFL

All NFL Teams To Enter Intensive COVID-19 Protocol Saturday

Nov 18, 2020, 2:22 PM | Updated: 2:26 pm
New York Giants...
Spencer Pulley #77 of the New York Giants looks on from the sidelines while wearing a mask during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

AP – The NFL is placing all teams in intensive protocol starting Saturday to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 as the number of cases rises around the country.

Use of masks will be mandatory at all times at team facilities, including during practice and in weight rooms. Meetings must be held either virtually or in the largest indoor space with approval by the league. Meals have to be made available for grab-and-go to avoid players and staff congregating in cafeterias. Time spent in the locker room also has to be limited.

Clubs operating under the intensive protocols have reduced close contacts by more than 50% since the fifth week of the regular season, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was sent from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to teams on Wednesday.

“These sustained reductions and the resulting health and safety benefits make it appropriate to implement the intensive protocols on a mandatory, league-wide basis,” Goodell said in the memo.

So far, 28 teams have entered intensive protocol at some point and 16 teams have done it more than once.

“The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now,” Goodell wrote. “Because we have a highly sophisticated program of daily testing, we know when the virus enters our facilities, which underscores the importance of contact tracing and other steps to minimize close contacts within a facility.

“Recent experience has highlighted the importance of minimizing high-risk close contacts; on multiple occasions, we have seen individuals identified on that basis test positive within a short time. We have also seen many instances in which effective action by clubs to minimize these close contacts prevented the virus from spreading within the club, and avoided players or coaches being ruled out of practice or games.”

The NFL said Tuesday there were 17 new confirmed positives among players and 35 among other personnel during testing from Nov. 8-14. That brought the league’s total to 95 players and 175 other personnel since Aug. 1, not counting new cases this week.

“The biggest motivator I find when we talk to the clubs about this is simply that if they are not in compliance with the protocols from a mask-wearing perspective or for some reason somebody forgot their device or something like that, they’re much more likely to be identified as a high-risk close contact than they would otherwise,” said Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy.

“So when that individual coach or player is removed from the team environment for five days because their mask was down, that’s a lesson learned throughout the facility. And so I don’t think we see a lot of repeat problems as far as that goes. Not everybody’s perfect all the time. But I think the biggest enforcement piece is taking somebody out of the team environment and potentially costing them the opportunity to play in the game or to go through a week’s worth of the practice. I think that part of it is a little bit undersold. It feels like a lot when we talk to the clubs as a behavior change mechanism.”

Teams previously in intensive protocols have been the Falcons, Cardinals, Ravens, Bears, Broncos, Lions, Packers, Texans, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Saints, Steelers and 49ers.

___

AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

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