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Many fans have asked, "when is my favorite player coming back from health and safety protocols?" The answer is typically pretty simple.

It all depends on a player's CT levels.

Under the current protocols, players who are asymptomatic and vaccinated can return if they get back-to-back tests with CT levels of 30 and above. This must be done on back-to-back tests in two days.

What is a CT level exactly? It's the number that determines how contagious a person is.

I spoke to a COVID doctor to get extra details about what exactly a CT level is. It stands for cycle threshold and it's the number of times a machine needs to copy or run through a specimen of genetic material until it can detect that material on a PCR test. So, the less time the machine needs to detect something, the higher the viral load is. Hence, a lower CT number.

Simply put, a higher CT number is better. That means it takes the machine more time to detect a viral load.

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If your favorite player hasn't returned to your team's lineup it means one of two things: they're either symptomatic, or their CT level just hasn't returned to at least 30 on back-to-back tests.

With the new omicron variant, the levels return closer to 30 quicker than normal; however, sometimes they don't. I've spoken to numerous players who have told me they were completely asymptomatic, but their CT levels have been stuck under 30. One player, in particular, was stuck on 29 for numerous days straight. 

The levels can change almost immediately once a player becomes slightly contagious, even if they're asymptomatic. That's why a player won't be listed on an injury report, then suddenly get pulled from a game the next day. For instance, they can test a CT level of 34 the day before a game, but then suddenly test 27 on the day of a game.

Nearly every team has been ravaged by COVID-19 this season. Some have missed more important players than others, but everyone has felt some level of impact. Hopefully, the majority of these cases are completely asymptomatic and are just a waiting game for players wanting to return.

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