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ProFootballDoc: 95 NFL Covid Cases Are To Be Expected

The fact that the NFL released information that it had 95 individuals test positive for Covid-19 is big news. It is not bad news, as it was to be expected. 


I wrote to prepare for between 150-200 positive tests at first pass. Given that only rookies and some limited players are reporting, that 95 number is sure to go up by the July 28 full reporting date, even if the majority of veterans were doing their due diligence in reporting earlier than required for testing.


I also previously indicated to be prepared, and not surprised, when this happens. As other sports have shown us, the data points to about 5% positive testing across the leagues. That reflects the aggregate numbers in society.


Previous it was reported that 72 NFL players have been positive.


Today’s report appears to be a cumulative number at 95. That is not 95 new cases; it simply marks an increase of 23 and a new total.

The good news is there should be no alarm here. 


The key is to detect all the positive carriers on intake so that there is no intra team spread. It is important for decision makers to understand that the importance is not on the numbers at the start of reporting but what happens after the initial quarantine as players gather and practice together. The NBA had a little over 5% positive but so far in the Orlando bubble have not had any subsequent positives. That is the goal.


The bad news is this 95 number will undoubtedly climb as more players report and there is more testing. Given that my guess is that less than half the players have been tested, the numbers at initial reporting may rise to over the 150-200 estimate. I initially estimated that each team would average at least 5 players/coaches each.

The NFL will have daily testing after players enter the facility. From there, it will take a player 5 days and 2 negative tests to enter the facility. The protocol is to test the first day and quarantine at the hotel/home, if there is a positive. The individual would retest on Day 4, expect results Day 5, and then report inside the facility if he or she is cleared. This will undoubtedly delay the start of actual practices and is likely why the NFL folded on the preseason games as this really squeezes the timeline.


Indeed immediate point of care testing and results will help the NFL. 


My office has obtained such a unit. It is under FDA review and the accuracy of this 10 minute test needs to be vetted. If it can be proven to be sensitive and specific to Coronavirus detection, that would be a great leap for sports leagues and society.

Written by David Chao, MD

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as ProFootballDoc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Read More about David >>

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