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The NFL‘s preseason training camps may be scheduled to begin in mid-July, but many players have taken part in private group workouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, the medical director of the NFL Players’ Association, Thom Mayer, recommended that no NFL players gather together for private workouts:
That comes in the wake of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announcing Saturday that several employees tested positive for the coronavirus. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that two of those positive cases were players:
Other positive tests around the NFL have included a player from the San Francisco 49ers, several players on the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys—including superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott—and Denver Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that an NFL season might not happen at all without players quarantined away from the general public.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble—insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day—it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” he said, per Wayne Sterling and Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”
The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, responded in a statement that Fauci identified health risks the league was addressing and that the NFL was “developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem.”
“Make no mistake, this is no easy task,” he added. “We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed.”