The Covid surge is not leaving any event unaffected, and it is now the turn of the NFL to report new infections. Two teams have reported new infections and are moving into the intensive protocol of the league in order to maintain the safety of other members involved in the league.
Baltimore Ravens and The Green Bay Packers have confirmed through official statements that one player in their team has tested positive for covid 19.
In its official statement released to the media, Packers said that they have entered into the intensive protocol of the NFL and the player is placed under self-quarantine in order to contain the infection. They also said that they have been conducting routine tests during the tournament, and this has helped them to identify the infections in a short duration of time. They are also working on contact tracing in order to safeguard other players and staff members who were in contact with the infected players.
A similar statement was issued by the Ravens on Monday, and they said that the team was entering into the intensive protocol of the NFL and they had already started the contact tracing to identify other potential infections in the team. The Ravens said that they are working in coordination with the NFL and following all the Covid 19 safety guidelines issued by the organizers.
Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens also confirmed the news and tweeted that he was infected and hoping to get back to normal soon. In the previous game, Humphrey played down every defense and went on to make four tackles for the Ravens. However, the team lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the game.
There were some worries for Cleveland Browns also on Monday as the team decided to cancel all the scheduled in-person activities after one of its players reported symptoms of Covid 19. However, the player had not tested positive for Covid 19, and he was not in contact with other players after the match on Sunday. The team issued a statement that they would conduct all meetings virtually for the rest of the day.
The NFL which began on an optimistic note is facing problems towards the closing matches as the number of cases is surging all over the country. In the last few weeks, the number of cases has increased drastically and some analysts are also hinting at the second wave in some parts of the world. However, in the US, the rise is not essentially due to the second wave, and the first wave is still continuing with mild dips in the month of August and September.
The NFL authorities have said that they are taking all precautions to ensure the safety of the players and staff members during the tournaments. They said that they want to end the season on a safe note and insist that players use masks as they get onto the play area. They are also suggesting other players who are not playing also to use face coverings to protect the entire team and staff members from the risk of infection.
The problem comes with managing social distancing during these games. As the NFL involves physical contact with other players, it can be difficult to maintain social distance at least when the players are on the ground. However, the NFL authorities are making suitable arrangements to not crowd the bench areas, and they are looking at different ways to expand the bench areas to provide enough space for each player. In this way, players will not congregate in a small area, and it can help them to prevent the transmission of infection by a huge margin.
The NFL management council has clearly instructed teams to follow social distancing guidelines and instructed players to wear masks even on the sideline. In the statement, the management council said that when a player is wearing a mask during close contact, it reduces the probability of being designated as a High-Risk Close contact in the event the player gets exposed to a covid positive individual.
In a recent incident, a player who tested positive two days after the game was not wearing masks. When contact tracing was done on the player, it was revealed that the player was in close contact with another 17 teammates and some members of the staff. The interesting thing is that none of them was wearing masks. In this situation, all the other players who were in close contact have now become High-Risk Close contacts, and this is a high-risk situation for other teams.
The player who tested positive two days after the game had tested negative on the day of the game and before that. Even then, it puts other team members under a high-risk category, and they have to now go with the intense protocol of the NFL.
The NFL authorities said that they were working hard and in collaboration with all the teams to identify areas of vulnerability that can increase transmission risk. This is a learning process, and it can help them in future to manage other tournaments in similar situations. As of now, the NFL management is recommending extensive use of masks whenever the players are working with other people both on and off the ground. Other than that, proper social distancing is also essential to control the spread of the virus during the NFL tournament.
The shocking thing about the NFL tournament is that nearly 50 players and close to 70 staff members have tested positive for Covid 19 ever since the testing began in the early days of August. Due to this, several games had to be rescheduled, and many teams had to suspend in-person activities.
The rise in the number of cases among the NFL players is in line with what is happening with the rest of the country and many states are reporting record numbers in recent weeks. In this situation, NFL authorities are hoping that they can end the season at the earliest with as little damage as possible. This is undoubtedly the most challenging season for the NFL authorities.