Response to positive tests will be essential, says NFL chief physician

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As it plans what it hopes to be a full 2020 season, the NFL has recognized the inevitability that a number of its staff will be infected with the coronavirus. Maintaining the season throughout the fall will require effective use of the test and isolation procedures being developed.

“We expect positive cases to arise,” said NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills. “Because we believe that this disease will remain endemic in society, it should not be surprising that new positive cases arise. Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and prevent their spread to any other participant. We are working very diligently on this, and we will have detailed plans later. ”

Sills was part of a group of health officials who briefed owners on Tuesday on a two-hour conference call about the current state of coronavirus planning. He then told reporters that the league is working with the NFL Players Association on more immediate needs, such as a protocol to bring players and coaches back to the team’s facilities.

The NFL authorized the teams to reopen their trade offices on Tuesday, but there has not yet been an agreement on when all staff can return or if there will be field activities before the closing summer league June 26.

“We are not putting dates on the calendar at this point, as I consider that it is not based on the date but on science and technology,” said Sills, “we think there are certain steps important things that need to happen, regarding testing, regarding testing availability, regarding testing reliability, as well as our continuing evolution of understanding of exposure management. All of these things continue to evolve. When we and the players’ association feel that we are at a point of satisfaction with this science, then we will be ready to move on. “

Many members of the league believe that it is unlikely that teams will be on the field for mini-camps or training activities organized before the start of the training camp, which is scheduled for late July. National testing capacity will need to increase significantly by then, as Sills pledged on Tuesday that the NFL will not withdraw tests that are needed elsewhere.

“We want to make sure,” said Sills, “that we are not affecting the supply of necessary tests in the healthcare system in our markets or across the country. It’s a strong commitment from all of us. “

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