The NFL is done testing unvaccinated players for COVID-19.
The league and the NFL Players Association agreed to stop daily coronavirus testing for unvaccinated players through the end of the season, according to a memo distributed to teams on Friday afternoon obtained by ESPN.
Instead, the NFL said that it will simply add unvaccinated players to its existing symptom screening and surveillance programs, per the report. Now, both unvaccinated and vaccinated players will only be tested if they report having symptoms.
There are just eight teams left in the playoffs, a number that will be cut in half by Sunday night. Only “roughly” 12 players on those teams are still unvaccinated, according to ESPN — including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"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 league wrote in the memo, via ESPN.
The NFL altered its coronavirus protocols significantly last month following a massive outbreak in which three games were postponed and more than 100 players were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list in a single week. Among other things, it ended mandatory testing for asymptomatic vaccinated players and followed the CDC’s guidance in reducing the mandatory isolation period from 10 days to five days.
As of Friday afternoon, the United States is averaging more than 735,500 new coronavirus cases each day, according to The New York Times. That figure is down from a peak of more than 800,000 daily cases last week, though there were more than 1.1 million new cases reported on Tuesday alone. About 63% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated.