According to the sources, the NFL retested the original 77 samples, all of which had been processed at the same BioReference lab in New Jersey. All retests came back negative. The league also ran faster point-of-service tests on Sunday, and all 77 of those tests were negative as well.
Under training camp protocol agreed to by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, all 77 people – players, coaches and some staff – can return to normal activities on Monday.
BioReference, which the NFL hired to perform all of its COVID-19 tests, uses five labs across the country to process the league’s daily tests. The New Jersey lab was the only one to produce false positives over the weekend.
In a statement Monday morning, BioReference said, “On August 22, BioReference Laboratories reported a high number of positive COVID-19 PCR results for NFL players and staff at several clubs. The NFL immediately took the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the players. and the staff. Our investigation revealed that these were most likely false positives, caused by isolated contamination during test preparation in the New Jersey lab. Reagents, analyzers, and personnel were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing indicated the issue was resolved. All those affected have been confirmed negative and informed. ”
In an email sent to its members Sunday night, the NFLPA said it had “launched an investigation into both the testing process at the lab site in question and whether or not all of our protocols were being followed.” .
Three of the hardest-hit teams this weekend were the Minnesota Vikings, who had 12 individuals producing false positive tests, the New York Jets (10) and the Chicago Bears (nine). These numbers created immediate alarms after the NFL produced a low rate of infection in the first month of training camp. As of Monday morning, only three players remained on the COVID-19 list.
The episode is likely to influence discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA, who are working to finalize regular season testing protocols. The parties must decide to continue the daily testing, which expires on September 5, and also create a policy to eliminate false positives when determining eligibility for the games.
During training camp, all positive test results are followed by two additional tests over a 24 hour period. If both of these tests come back negative, the original test is classified as a false positive.