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As NFL teams prepare for his or her third season for the reason that pandemic began, the coronavirus is usually forgotten but not entirely gone.
Teams arrived at their training camps last month with no coronavirus protocols in effect and with the virus-related problems with the previous two seasons fading rapidly from memory.
But players, coaches and team staffers quickly have been reminded — with the preseason now underway — that the coronavirus will not be quite as absent or inconsequential as everyone would love, and that a team still may very well be left suddenly without its quarterback, its head coach or other key personnel for a game once the regular season begins next month.
The newest reminder got here Friday when the Minnesota Vikings announced quarterback Kirk Cousins had tested positive for the virus. Cousins will miss the Vikings’ preseason opener Sunday at Las Vegas against the Raiders and might be eligible to rejoin the team next week following a five-day isolation period.
Coach Kevin O’Connell pronounces that Kirk Cousins has tested positive for COVID-19 and can miss Sunday’s game.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 12, 2022
“We’re not going to see covid disappear,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’ve talked all along about attempting to learn to coexist with it, and to treat it with the respect and seriousness that it deserves, but in addition to grasp how we are able to operate.”
Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll missed time during his team’s training camp early this month after testing positive for the virus. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray also missed time during camp following a positive coronavirus test.
“I’m feeling great,” Carroll said, wearing a mask while speaking at a news conference upon his return to the Seahawks’ camp. “I never did feel really bad. I just had a few symptoms that ticked it off, and away we went. So we’ve had to actually be cognizant and respectful of everybody else. … We’ve had quite a lot of experience and quite a lot of background with this. So we feel like we did it rather well.”
Houston Texans quarterback Kyle Allen reportedly is missing a preseason game Saturday due to a positive test. The Vikings confirmed Cousins’s positive test result Friday after saying Thursday that he’d been sent home with a then-undetermined illness.
The NFL, working mostly collaboratively with the NFL Players Association, implemented strict protocols — including extensive testing, stringent mask-wearing requirements and using electronic tracking devices to help with contact tracing — to play complete seasons in 2020 and 2021. Some games were postponed, but none were canceled entirely. Teams faced competitive disadvantages resulting from isolations from positive tests or quarantines based on contact tracing.
After a pointy increase in cases late last season attributed to the omicron variant, the league and the NFLPA regularly eased their testing requirements and return-to-play procedures, reasoning that it was time to work out easy methods to live and performance with a type of the virus that was more transmissible but didn’t cause serious illness inside the NFL population.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed in March to suspend their protocols, which implies there are not any leaguewide provisions for normal surveillance testing, masking requirements or contact-tracing quarantines.
NFL suspends ‘all points’ of its coronavirus protocols
Teams have been told they’re expected to stay in compliance with state and native health directives. Any player, coach or team staffer with symptoms of covid-19 illness is to be tested; any individual who tests positive is subject to a five-day isolation.
“I believe, as all the time, we monitor these issues very rigorously,” Sills said. “And I believe that we are going to proceed to see covid cases throughout most — if not all — of our season, just as we’ll in the overall population. We all the time say that our players, coaches and staff, they’re a part of their community. In order communities take care of potential future waves of the illness, we definitely can see that occur, as well. At the identical time, I actually have an incredible amount of confidence in our team medical staffs. They obviously have a few seasons of coping with these issues and coping with this illness. And so I believe we all know loads more going into it now than we now have in previous seasons.”
The league’s coronavirus testing is driven primarily by individuals self-reporting symptoms, Sills acknowledged. Competitive pressures perhaps could discourage such self-reporting through the regular season. But Sills said the NFL will stress that keeping everyone inside a team’s facility healthy is a collaborative endeavor.
“I believe that we’ve continued to emphasise, as we now have prior to now, that every person has a responsibility to the rest of their teammates and colleagues to maintain them secure,” Sills said, “and to be certain, in the event that they are having symptoms, to talk up and to get tested, and in the event that they’re positive, obviously to isolate away from the team.”
The NFL didn’t have leaguewide testing results for teams’ training camps compiled and available as of Thursday, Sills said.
“We obviously can’t predict the longer term,” Sills said. “This has proved to be a really unpredictable virus, and it definitely will proceed to morph and evolve, and latest variants may occur. So we’ll just should remain vigilant and be able to pivot and adjust and adapt as needed.”