NFL issues new procedures for teams following COVID outbreak

Sports

The entrance to the Tennessee Titans’ practice facility is shown Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans suspended in-person activities through Friday after the NFL said three Titans players and five personnel tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first COVID-19 outbreak of the NFL season in Week 4. The facility is now closed for four days to help limit the spread of the virus. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is tightening up the league’s procedures for how teams go back to work following positive COVID-19 results after the Tennessee Titans’ outbreak postponed their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The league sent a memo to all 32 teams Thursday and it was obtained by The Associated Press. It details new procedures to follow for any club dealing with an outbreak or exposure to COVID-19 or teams exposed to a club with an active outbreak.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, and Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, wrote that daily testing does not protect anyone during this pandemic and any activity after testing increases the potential for infection.

They noted the Titans’ outbreak this week included both players and non-players while potentially exposing Minnesota during their game last weekend.

“To that end, it is essential to wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing at all times and practice healthy hand hygiene,” according to the memo. “There is one simple rule to remember: act as if every person you come in contact with has a COVID infection and take appropriate precautions.”

Teams will have to add a second daily test, including on game days. All meetings will be virtual, and both players and staff will have to wear face coverings and gloves at practice with only quarterbacks allowed to keep their throwing hands uncovered.

There’s new limits on how many can be in the weight room at any one time, and contract tracing info will be reviewed with general managers and coaches daily.

And teams and players will not be allowed to hold any gatherings or group activities away from the facility.

Sills will be consulting with medical experts to decide when a team must follow these new procedures and when any outbreak has eased enough to return to the previous protocols.

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