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NFL's Surprising Reaction to Record Covid-19 Cases: Do Less Testing

As New York ramps up Omicron testing, the NFL will ramp it down.
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Long Lines Formed

New York Hits Covid-19 Case Record as Omicron Looms 

Hospitalizations in the US are rising and there are Record Cases in New York

  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that the state recorded 21,027 new Covid-19 cases, surpassing the previous record of 19,942 set in January. Of roughly 263,500 people tested, 7.98% were positive for the virus.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine activated over 1,000 National Guard personnel to relieve staffing shortages at healthcare facilities and New York City dispatched health inspectors to check compliance with its mask and vaccination regulations.
  • New York City officials said they were adding testing sites and doubling capacity at existing locations after long lines formed at some places. Health officials said the Covid-19 positivity rate in the city doubled over a three-day period through Sunday.
  • The CDC endorsed a strategy known as test-to-stay to keep students in class after exposure to someone with Covid-19 through frequent testing. More schools have embraced the strategy this fall to keep students in class and avoid at-home quarantines.

The NFL Weighs Less Covid Testing—Not More—to Thwart Disruptions

In contrast to New York, The NFL Weighs Less Covid Testing—Not More—to Thwart Disruptions

The NFL is weighing whether to eliminate weekly Covid-19 testing for vaccinated players who are asymptomatic, according to league and players’ union officials, a move that would reverse its past pandemic practice in a bid to keep players from being sidelined while not feeling sick.

The idea of decreasing, not increasing, testing comes as the league suffers through a brutal round of Covid outbreaks. More than 100 players tested positive this week, and the league on Friday postponed three games, to Monday and Tuesday, hoping that decimated team rosters can be stabilized. 

 “We can’t apply 2020 solutions to the 2021 problems that we’re having,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Wednesday. “We’re often at the tip of the spear in seeing some of these changes before they show up in other elements of society because we do have so many tools at our disposal.” 

The NFL’s possible move raises the question of whether it could be an acceptable compromise to let fully vaccinated asymptomatic people play or party on—as long as it’s only with other fully vaccinated people who face low risks from the virus.

In a league where almost 95% of players and 100% of staff are vaccinated, the problem isn’t individuals getting sick. It’s players getting removed from action when they test positive despite feeling completely healthy. 

Two-thirds of the players who have tested positive this week are asymptomatic, Sills said. The other third, he said, are suffering very mild symptoms

2020 Solutions to the 2021 Problems

 “We can’t apply 2020 solutions to the 2021 problems that we’re having,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Wednesday.

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Is that the key?         

I will have more thoughts on that question later today or tomorrow.

By the way, 95% of NFL players are vaccinated and 100% of the coaches are. That is amazingly high vs health care workers and the population at large.

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