No unique or additional modifications to existing health and safety protocol are planned for NFL teams in light of the coronavirus outbreak with Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins.
The league and players union established COVID-19 guidelines for prevention and protection through collective bargaining in recent weeks.
As of Monday, 20 of the 32 individual team plans for Infectious Disease Emergency Response had been approved. Training camps are scheduled to open on Tuesday for most teams, while the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans were the first to report last week.
NFL Players Association project coordinator Erin Lockwood told Field Level Media on Monday that the union “will follow the guidelines, protocols and CBA amendments agreed upon with the league this past Friday.”
IDER plans are submitted to the NFL and NFLPA, then approved by Duke University independent experts.
All clubs have submitted their plans, but 12 remain under review. No more than 19 players can be in a team facility at a time until the IDER plan is approved.
The Marlins did not travel back to Miami as scheduled Sunday night for their home opener scheduled for Monday. Reports indicate as many as 16 players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
In response, the Philadelphia Phillies canceled their Monday game against the New York Yankees. The Phillies played the Marlins on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Phillies players were tested on Monday afternoon and sent home to await results.
Not long after, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said the situation was alarming but noted NFL teams are also several weeks from traveling for the start of the 2020 regular season.
“We understand that the virus is real, and we do everything we can in our powers to stay safe, protecting ourselves when we’re in the building, protecting our players,” Pederson said. “It’s unfortunate what has happened, but we do have a lengthy set of protocols that we have to abide by. This is our new normal right now. It’s something we’re going to embrace. We’re going to make it a positive. It is what it is, and we’re going to embrace it and move forward.”
Pederson said there was initial skepticism around the plan to conduct regular testing and thorough cleaning to keep players safe. He said he’s no longer concerned after seeing the process to completion.
“This is our bubble right here at NovaCare,” he said of the team’s practice facility and headquarters. “I can’t control everything. We can’t control everything. There are probably going to be some things that come up down the road, but right now, I feel extremely safe and this is a great environment for our players to succeed in.”
–Field Level Media