Written by @kristenshylin_
As football season creeps right around the corner with no vaccine in sight, family safety has been a growing concern among players.
On Sunday, NFL players flooded social media with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, expressing their frustration of putting their family’s health at risk.
Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted, “I am concerned. My wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player & Family Safety. We want to play football, but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay.”
On Monday afternoon, the league responded to the players’ cry for answers with a plan to administer daily testing.
The NFL Players Association issued a statement on Twitter addressing the COVID-19 testing procedures.
“Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing, and treatment protocols to keep our players safe. The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.”
According to USA Today, The NFL and NFLPA settled an agreement to conduct daily COVID-19 testing for players, coaches, and designated staff, such as medical staff, equipment staff, and strength and conditioning staff.
League Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills confirmed that the league would administer daily testing throughout the first two weeks of training camp. Testing frequency after the first two weeks will depend on the positivity rate.
If the test’s positivity rate stays below 5%, testing will be reduced to every other day, Sills said. If it reaches 5% or higher, daily testing will continue.
Under the new safety guidelines, players will be required to test negative multiple times before participating in team activities.
“We are trying to minimize transmission of virus and mitigate risk of any player contracting the virus,” Sills said. “We know we can’t eliminate risk.”
In addition to testing, teams will require daily temperature screening, symptom monitoring, social distancing, and masks.
“This is not going to feel normal because it’s not going to be normal,” Sills said. “We’ve asked everyone to go through and look at the facility, the layout and the routine of practice through the lens of: ‘What can we do to mitigate risk:'”
In efforts to reduce risks, the NFL will use a proximity tracking device to identify which league member may have come into contact with someone who tested positive. The device is said to perform a “very fine degree of precision,” showing who was exposed to whom and how long.
The league confirmed with its test supplier, BioReference Laboratories, that the testing protocol will not affect public testing availability, Sills stated.
All rookie players are expected to start training camp on Tuesday, and all remaining players will report to their team’s facilities on July 28.