The NFL and the NFL players association agreed to cease daily COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated players, allowing them to follow the protocols that were issued for vaccinated players and coaches in December.
The league sent a memo to the remaining eight teams in the NFL playoffs on Friday, eliminating the designation between unvaccinated and vaccinated players.
The NFL's change comes after the number of cases of the omicron variant. All players and tiered staff will undergo enhanced symptom screening, symptom-based testing and targeted surveillance testing.
According to the NFL’s most recent COVID-19 data from Jan. 13, 95% of players and nearly 100% of staff members are vaccinated. Of all the unvaccinated players remaining on playoff teams, only about a dozen haven’t had COVID-19 already according to Pelissero, so the latest change will only affect a small number of people.
One of the 12 remaining unvaccinated players is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His 90-day testing exemption following a positive case was set to expire soon. Per Pelissero, players on the 90-day test “holiday” after having COVID-19 are still subject to testing if they have symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status.
While there has been a decrease in positive tests to nearly zero across the league, it is still possible that players could miss a playoff game if they are sick.
NFL and NFLPA medical experts have seen omicron cases retreating, noting that targeted testing is working after the league saw a spike in omicron-based cases in mid-December.
The NFL’s divisional round of the playoffs will begin Saturday when the Titans host the Cincinnati Bengals at 4:30 p.m. ET.
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