NFL, NFLPA agree to modify COVID-19 protocols, cutting standard isolation period from 10 to 5 days

The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to modify their joint COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, cutting the standard isolation period after a positive test for asymptomatic individuals from 10 days to five days regardless of vaccination status, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

An individual to clear protocol must meet other qualifications beyond the five days since their initial positive test, per a memo to all 32 teams obtained by Pelissero. An individual must clear at least 24 hours since their last fever without the aide of fever-reducing medication; other symptoms must be "resolved or improved"; individual must be cleared by team doctor in consultation with ICS and NFL; and any local regulations or requirements have been satisfied.

Once cleared all individuals must wear a mask for five days after returning except when participating in practice or a game.

The change in protocols was made in accordance with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which announced on Monday that it had shortened the recommended time for isolation from 10 to five days followed by five days of mask wearing provided the person is asymptomatic. That determination was based on the CDC's knowledge of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.

The decision also came one day after the league saw a record 106 players placed on COVID-19 lists. Pelissero reported that unvaccinated players who tested positive in recent days, including Colts quarterback Carson Wentz, would be eligible to play in Week 17 provided they meet the new qualifications to clear protocol.

The updated protocols also state that meetings are only permitted outdoors or in a practice bubble while practicing social distancing, mandatory masks indoors, a maximum of 15 players in the weight room and individuals are not permitted to eat together.

Pelissero reported earlier Tuesday that the league and players' union were in discussions on changes to the COVID-19 protocols based on the new CDC recommendation.

Earlier this month, the NFL updated its COVID-19 policy to allow vaccinated individuals to "test out" of protocols more quickly provided the person is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.

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