Testing irregularities at one of the labs used by the NFL led to 77 positives for COVID-19 among players and staff members from multiple teams Saturday.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that all 77 original tests were rerun Sunday night, and every single one came back negative, per sources informed of the situation.
All 77 individuals also underwent additional point-of-care tests. Each came back negative as well.
The rash of positive tests led to several teams altering their workout schedules, including some cancellations to ensure the safety of players and staff. Once it was clear the issue was with the testing lab, not a bevy of positive results, some operations resumed. The Browns were one of the team affected and pushed their morning session to Sunday afternoon. Head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters Monday he was one of the people on the team to have a false positive test.
BioReference Laboratories, the New Jersey lab in question, explained the error Monday in the following statement:
"On August 22, BioReference Laboratories reported an elevated number of positive COVID-19 PCR test results for NFL players and personnel at multiple clubs. The NFL immediately took necessary actions to ensure the safety of the players and personnel. Our investigation indicated that these were most likely false positive results, caused by an isolated contamination during test preparation in the New Jersey laboratory. Reagents, analyzers and staff were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing has indicated that the issue has been resolved. All individuals impacted have been confirmed negative and informed."
The issue gives the NFL another curveball to consider before the start of the season. Better to work out some of the kinks during training camp than when games begin.
To that end, Rapoport reported that the NFL is working with its labs on ways to retest immediately, so there is no lag time for a false-positive, as we saw this weekend.