A thread on this week's adjustments to NFL COVID plan, which includes additional categories for close contacts.

Here's the link to the full 70+ page document if you're interested in the specific language.


The NFL now has three defined categories for those in contact with a COVID+ person.

Low - Medium - High

Definitions of these categories to follow...

Low Risk Close COVID Contact [NFL]

*Present at facility w/ infected person

*No interaction or shared location within previous 48 hours

Medium Risk Close COVID Contact [NFL]

*Maintained 6 ft distance from infected person

*Less than 10 min within 6 ft of infected person while both wearing masks

*No physical contact w/ infected person or shared objects during practice

High Risk Close COVID Contact [NFL]

*Not specifically defined in document

*Assumed to mean: Closer contact than Medium category, i.e. less than 6ft distanced for longer than 10 min, any physical contact w/ infected person or shared objects

Per protocol document, the NFL does not consider the following to be close contact:

*Brief interactions, i.e. walking past someone

*Contact w/ infected individual while playing a game or during game-associated travel

Low and Medium risk close contacts [NFL]

*Isolated until confirmed negative COVID test (generally 24 hours)

*Cleared to return to facility if no symptoms under continued observation and daily testing

High Risk close contacts [NFL]

*Quarantined for five days after the most recent high risk COVID exposure regardless of test results

The NFL also adjusted testing protocols to ensure COVID testing is available and rapid results are reported on gameday.

Previously, teams were tested each morning with an expected 12-24 hour turnaround.

Now, teams playing Sunday will be tested on Sunday morning.

Again, you can read the full NFL protocol -- updated last Monday -- in the first tweet in this thread. There is some wonky language here and there but I think the previous tweets are an accurate and reasonable representation.

A few editorial thoughts of my own to follow...

NFL protocol

...implies high risk contact occurs w/ physical contact w/ infected persons or shared objects during practices

...does not consider game travel or gameplay as close contact; these are considered brief, low-risk interactions

That's difficult to reconcile

NFL protocol

...continues to prioritize contact tracing through self-reporting + proximity monitors and daily testing rather than quarantining low and medium risk close contacts

These protocols, then...

*Allow players to return with negative tests within known window of incubation rather than quarantine

*Define close physical contact in most favorable way possible

NFL clearly trying to strike a balance between managing low risk exposures, preventing outbreaks within and among teams, and finishing the season w/ as few interruptions as possible.

Testing and tracing in NFL entirely different than general public, may prove successful.

Fully expect NFL to continue to adapt protocols to what it believes are best practices in the face of ever-changing pandemic.

We'll see if their test/trace plan is successful in the coming weeks.


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More from @JeneBramel

4 Oct
Earlier this week, I questioned whether ATL (no close contacts reported, cleared to play, no subsequent positives) or TEN (cleared to play, ongoing outbreak) was the outlier situation with respect to contact tracing and testing protocols.

Lots of strong reporting this morning suggests contact tracing and practice protocols were appropriate in ATL while league is investigating how TEN handled those same protocols.

Still disconcerting to see ongoing TEN positives 5-6 days after last probable facility exposures. Hopeful this proves to be the outlier situation and tipping point for all teams to tighten protocols.

Read 9 tweets
29 Sep
I have lots of questions about the last few days of positive COVID tests in the NFL.

This is going to be a little disjointed.

So...a thread.

Report: Atlanta had a player -- cornerback A.J. Terrell -- test positive Friday or Saturday. The Falcons were cleared to play on the strength of reassuring contact tracing and negative testing through gameday.

Report: Tennesse had a position coach test positive on Saturday. The Titans were cleared to play Sunday on the strength of reassuring contact tracing and negative testing through gameday.

Read 10 tweets
13 Oct 19
Tyreek Hill

Earlier in week, felt Hill's status was either-or proposition. If medical staff felt comfortable w/ stability of sternoclavicular joint, Hill was likely to play and see his pre-injury snaps and workload.

Tyreek Hill

Felt pre-injury workload was likely because:

*stable joint means risk of re-injury low and same on snap 47 as snap 1.

*Hill's role in offense is known commodity and doesn't require advance notice to game plan

**KC depth chart offers no Hill-like alternatives

Tyreek Hill

Overnight reports suggest medical staff comfortable w/ stability of Hill's joint. That was primary hurdle to playing this week.

But reports of soreness suggest Hill is having some football-specific reconditioning issues. Soreness limiting his range of motion?

Read 6 tweets
15 Sep 19
Lots of follow up to come on injuries overnight and tomorrow.

Expect Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, and Drew Brees -- among others -- to have MRIs to further evaluate their injuries.

Early thoughts ...

Ben Roethlisberger:

Reached for top of elbow, non-contact injury, possible early-week inflammation.

Just my early speculation, but looks more likely tennis elbow type injury or muscle strain than UCL sprain. Hopefully, rest and rehab and short absence.

Should know more soon.
Drew Brees:

Hard to see what happened on video but sideline exam shown on television very worrisome for a UCL thumb sprain. If so, Brees may need surgery and weeks of recovery.

I'm more nervous about a prolonged absence for Brees than Roethlisberger.
Read 4 tweets
30 Mar 19
Lots of players are injury prone. Medical and training staff knows which of their players are at highest risk. While possible to estimate a player’s risk based on what we know — there’s so much we don’t know that it’s hard to handicap how good that “estimate” may be.
For example, we know players with previous ACL tears are at higher risk of another ACL injury. They are “prone to injury.” Some of those have associated meniscal or cartilage injuries that will shorten careers. They are injury prone. And there are tons and tons of other examples.
But it doesn’t always follow that a set of prior injuries means a player is prone to future injury. And many, many players who do not have a long list of injuries are prone to injury due to biomechanical and functional factors folks outside the league know nothing about.
Read 4 tweets
10 Dec 18
Helmet-to-helmet hit with dizziness after the game for Austin Ekeler. Anthony Lynn wouldn't confirm but obviously worrisome for concussion. Would be very difficult to gain clearance for road Thursday night game if so.
Interesting that Ekeler talked to reporters in locker room, however. Lynn reporting dizziness after hit suggests concussion. But Ekeler would unlikely have been cleared to talk to the media if he was in return to play protocol.

Now, Schefter reporting stinger as diagnosis.

Either way, Ekeler's status in serious doubt for Thursday.

Concussion: Nearly impossible to gain clearance in time to travel to Thursday night game.

Recurrent stinger requiring more evaluation: Symptoms likely to require more than one week rehab/recovery.
Read 4 tweets

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