The NFL Players Association announced that 56 players have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the opening of teams’ training camps, in the first set of results released publicly since the NFL and its players’ union put their testing program into effect.
The NFLPA said the results were through Wednesday. The figure represents about 2% of the approximately 2,600 players on training camp rosters for the 32 NFL teams.
Neither the NFL nor the NFLPA immediately responded to requests for comment on the testing results.
The NFL had said it expected to deal with positive testing results, especially in the initial round of testing after players arrived at camps from all over the country and had not been subject to previous protocols.
“We fully well expect that we will have positive cases that arise because we think that this disease will remain endemic in society,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said during the offseason. “And so it shouldn’t be a surprise if new positive cases arise. Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and to prevent spread to any other participants.”
Players are being tested daily for at least the first two weeks of training camps under the agreement reached between the league and union. The testing frequency would be reduced to every other day thereafter if the rate of positive tests among players, coaches and other team staff members (individuals in Tiers 1 and 2, under the sport’s guidelines) is below 5 percent.
Teams are conducting training camps in their home cities at their training facilities, with strict protocols in place. Teams were given a treatment program by the league to follow if a player, coach or staffer tests positive or is found through contact-tracing to have been in contact with an individual who tested positive. All players, coaches and staffers are wearing tracking devices within team facilities to assist with distancing measures and contact-tracing.
Teams were given the option of having 80 players on their roster for the opening of training camp or having 90 players initially in a split-squad format.
Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions and Gardner Minshew of the Jacksonville Jaguars were among the players placed on their teams’ covid-19 reserve lists during the early days of training camps. Those lists are all-encompassing for any player who either tests positive or is found through contact-tracing to have been exposed to the virus. Both quarterbacks were later activated. Minshew told reporters he had not contracted the virus, and the Lions said that Stafford had been on the list because of a false-positive testing result.