The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to stopping daily COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated players, which allows them to have the same protocols put in place for vaccinated players and coaches last month, ESPN reports.
A memo sent to all 32 NFL teams on Friday (January 21) confirmed unvaccinated players would be added to the league’s existing symptom screening and testing surveillance programs, which implements that any player or coach who reports symptoms will be tested.
“This comprehensive, symptom-based approach to testing reflects our recent experience with the omicron variant and conforms to current public health recommendations and best practices employed in healthcare, and offers the best opportunity for identifying and treating cases promptly and avoiding spread within the facility,” the NFL wrote in the memo obtained by ESPN on Friday.
The NFL’s most recent COVID-19 data release stated that 95% of the league’s players and nearly 100% of coaching staff members are vaccinated, so the change is expected to only apply to a small group of individuals.
Eight teams remain in the NFL playoffs as of Saturday (January 22) afternoon and a source told ESPN that about 12 players still in playoff contention remain unvaccinated.
The NFL had a total of 756 players and 478 staff members test positive from December 12 to January 8 amid the omicron surge.
The league claimed most cases were asymptomatic and that led to a shift away from daily testing.
The NFL has averaged 19,253 tests for each two-week testing period from September 5 to December 11 and administered a total of 12,491 tests from December 26 to January 8.