Top NFL doctor to CBS: League always expected to see positive COVID-19 tests

David J. Phillip
Dr. Allen Sills is the chief medical officer for the NFL.

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Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, addressed the league’s first COVID-19 outbreak on Sunday, saying that officials had anticipated players testing positive during the season and that the focus has been on avoiding spread.

“We said consistently that we expect to have some positive cases and that our goal is to prevent any positive cases from spreading around the teams,” Sills told CBS’s NFL Today.

Sills’ comments came hours after the league postponed Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs game to Monday following quarterback Cam Newton receiving a positive coronavirus test result.

The decision to postpone the game and guarantee that players and personnel were testing negative – the Patriots underwent two tests on Saturday and another on Sunday – is part of the NFL’s procedure, Sills said.


“This is something we’ve been following those protocols for and following the plans we laid out and trying to keep everyone as safe as possible,” he said.

Sills further explained the protocol Newton must follow: He could return to play sooner if he does not develop symptoms and has two negative tests in a span of five days, or within 10 days of the positive test. If Newton develops symptoms, he can return 10 days from the development of symptoms, plus one day free of symptoms.

“I think he would come back on one of those plans depending on whether or not he develops symptoms along the way,” Sills said.


Almost two dozen players and staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, including 20 positive cases within the Titans organization. ESPN reported earlier Sunday that league officials would be investigating to determine whether or not Tennessee violated any COVID-19 protocols.

Sills said the NFL will adjust its COVID-19 policies as the season moves forward, learning from each positive test situation.

“We know that testing will get better, we’ll learn more about spread and transmission, and make those protocols as safe as possible,” Sills said. “So we’re taking a really, really deep dive into the Tennessee situation, trying to learn all that we can for the benefit of everyone.”


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