Will NFL chief medical officer’s season ‘with cautious optimism’ stay on track?

The NFL sailed through last winter’s postseason tournament and the Super Bowl without encountering any scheduling disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not have to cancel games last fall in cause of the virus. Although there were concerns that the rise in coronavirus cases caused by the highly contagious variant of Omicron, coupled with possible pandemic-related attendance restrictions in California, could cause the league to move Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium, it was confirmed on Thursday that no such plans exist ahead of the opening. round of this year’s playoffs.

NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills spoke to Sam Farmer and Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times for an article published Friday and said he was “cautiously optimistic” the league can pass the playoffs ahead without major problems or setbacks.

“We’ve moved away from a kind of extended surveillance where we were testing unvaccinated people every day and vaccinated people once a week,” Sills said of the league’s approach amid the surge in health. infection of Omicron. “We have done what we call a strategic and targeted program, where we are still testing the unvaccinated daily, but we are no longer doing random surveillance testing. We are targeting people with symptoms and asking them to come and get tested. . I think it was a great success.”

Sills added that 94% of NFL players, coaches and staff are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while others recently infected also have some immunity. Nonetheless, teams are expected to encourage players to wear masks and practice social distancing when away from football-related activities to try to prevent outbreaks among rosters during the playoffs.

“I believe we have a solid plan in place and we have shown that we can adapt and adjust as the data guides us,” Sills continued. “But we’ve also said we’re always going to respond to the data and what it’s showing us, and we’re going to work with the public health authorities and make sure we follow their guidelines and also support the messaging that needs to come out.”

As Michael David Smith wrote for Pro Football Talk, logic suggests that at least some players will choose not to self-report COVID-19 symptoms to avoid potentially testing positive for the virus during play. most important of the year NFL. It’s a risk the league is willing to take about a month before the Super Bowl on Sunday.

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