On Saturday, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) told team members that they shouldn't participate in group workouts before starting training camps at the end of next month because of the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, The Washington Post reported. The NFL has had a recent increase in athletes testing positive for COVID-19, along with players from other professional sporting associations like the MLB and the NHL.
"Please be advised that it is our consensus medical opinion that in light of the increase in Covid-19 cases in certain states that no players should be engaged in practicing together in private workouts," Thom Mayer, the union's medical director, wrote to all NFL players. "Our goal is to have all players and your families as healthy as possible in the coming months."
Mayer's statement, which was posted to the NFLPA's official Twitter account, said that players should refrain from participating in "voluntary joint practices before training camp commences," according to The Washington Post. The statement also made it clear that the NFLPA is working with teams to ensure that training camps and the regular season can be conducted as safely as possible.
Several of the NFL's head coaches have expressed their concerns about playing the regular season during the pandemic.Per The Washington Post, most NFL teams are planning to begin their training camps at the end of July. NFL coaches and team staffers have been allowed to return to their teams' training facilities and have been given specific protocols to follow when they welcome players back for training camps. The NFL and the NFLPA have not yet reached an agreement about how often players will be tested and what the treatment protocol will be if players test positive, though the NFLPA told players' agents on Monday that they are hoping that team members will be tested three times each week.
The NFL's chief medical officer, Allen Sills, has stated that the league expects to deal with positive coronavirus tests as the season starts and continues. However, he did express optimism that the league will be able to start on time in September and play the full season. He acknowledged that the NFL is facing complicated issues as they prepare for the season amidst the pandemic.
"I think we just have to remain in very close contact with public health authorities and with our scientific advisers to look at what's safest in all of our locations," Sills said.
Sills admitted that the league was still discussing how to handle large numbers of players on a single team testing positive for the virus. He declined to say how many positive tests it would take to force a team to shut down for the season.