NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills says the league will hold players out of practice if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, even before a positive test is registered.
Sills noted that players and coaches will have to miss practice and potentially games due to common symptoms of COVID-19, which often match those commonly seen during flu season.
"Because there's so much overlap [in symptoms], we have to assume it could be COVID," Sills said on a conference call with the media. "I think we'll see that happening more and more frequently."
Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was sent home from Cleveland practice on Thursday with an illness. Beckham hasn't tested positive for COVID-19, but Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski still sent the receiver home in order to "follow the protocols."
The COVID-19 crisis has already caused multiple ripples in the NFL's 2020 schedule, and teams continued to face complications due to the virus on Thursday. The Falcons closed their facility on Thursday after a personnel official tested positive for COVID-19, just three days before Atlanta is slated to face the Vikings. That game is still currently scheduled to be played.
The NFL plans to continue its season as it manages the COVID-19 crisis. Sills came out against the idea of using a bubble environment for the league on Wednesday.
"A bubble is not going to keep out all infections," Sills said. "We still have to do all these measures of mitigation, with PPE, with identifications of symptoms, with testing, etc."