BREAKING NEWS: Despite your penchant for galavanting without a mask whenever you go to take out the trash, COVID-19 is still very much a thing.
Case in point, ESPN reports that an “usually high number” of positive COVID-19 tests throughout the NFL has the league rethinking its approach to the virus:
An unusually high number of positive COVID-19 tests on Monday has the NFL and NFL Players Association considering further changes to the league’s coronavirus protocols as the regular season enters its final four weeks.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the league had 37 positive COVID-19 tests on Monday. These numbers tend to be higher on Mondays because that’s when most teams test their vaccinated players and personnel (who have to be tested only once a week, unlike unvaccinated players, who test daily). But to put Monday’s number into perspective, consider that the league had only 72 positive tests in a two-week stretch from Nov. 14 to Nov. 27.
Houston, we have a problem.
Clearly, the NFL isn’t alone in experiencing a notable surge in positive COVID-19 cases, as the exact same thing is happening throughout the rest of the country. (Which is to be expected since more and more people are congregating indoors and enjoying the fruits of Cuffin’ Season as temperatures drop in the winter.) But with billions of dollars at stake—12.2 billion to be exact—the NFL is putting its foot down and requiring coaches and other team personnel to receive a COVID-19 booster by Dec. 27. And before you ask, this new mandate doesn’t include players.
From USA Today:
The league issued a memo to its teams on Monday evening instructing all Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff members that they are required to receive the booster by December 27 if six months have passed since they received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and if two months have passed since they received the Johnson & Johnson shot.
If they do not receive the booster, those employees will lose this vaccination status, which is a requirement from the league for employees of the Tier 1 and 2 designation.
Coaches and trainers fall in that Tier 1 category. General managers, front office members and other football operations staffers are Tier 2 employees.
“On November 29, the CDC issued a study showing that the effectiveness of the approved COVID-19 vaccines may decrease over time and has recommended that all eligible vaccinated individuals over the age of 18 should receive a booster shot,” the league wrote in its memo. “Given the increased prevalence of the virus in our communities, our experts have recommended that we implement the CDC’s recommendation.”
Hopefully, the league is able to get this under control soon, as the rash of postponed games last season due to COVID-19 was a frequent annoyance. But whether you’re in a professional football player not, do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and get vaccinated (and the booster) and wear your mask.