The NFL is looking to up the frequency of COVID-19 testing for vaccinated players.
According to ESPN, NFL general counsel Larry Ferazani said Thursday that the league has proposed increasing the regularity of testing for vaccinated players from once every 14 days to once every seven days. Daily testing would continue to be required for unvaccinated players.
The proposal requires approval from the NFL Players Association, which has been a proponent of daily testing for all players. The NFLPA released a statement to ESPN, saying "The COVID environment is constantly changing and our success last year was built not only on a foundation of cooperation, but more importantly, on listening to our experts. It is clear with what we know about the Delta variant and with what we have seen already with clubs, testing needs to be a greater focal point."
Players were tested daily last year, prior to the release of any coronavirus vaccines. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said that daily testing isn’t the most important prevention method.
"People tend to focus on safety, and it's very important that we realize that testing is not prevention," Sills said. "Testing is not preventing anyone from transmitting the virus. It is one part of our mitigation strategy but it's not the key part. ... Testing is obviously something that is helpful and it can be beneficial but we try to apply it in a targeted and intelligent manner and we try to test those people that are most at risk, and that's what we'll continue to recommend. But it's not testing that will get us through this surge or the future of our season here."
Sills said Thursday that nearly 93 percent of NFL players are at least partially vaccinated, while staff members are nearly 100 percent vaccinated. From Aug. 1 through Aug. 21, 68 of the league’s 7,190 tests came back positive.
According to Sports Illustrated, the league currently requires unvaccinated players to wear masks at all times, except when doing so would interfere with their ability to engage in athletic activity.