David Chao, MD: NFL Reports Remarkable 0 Positives in First Return of Covid Testing

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The mainstream public doubted that the NFL could succeed without a bubble. Through the first week of padded practice, they were wrong.

Call to the success of the NBA and NHL bubbles versus the failure of the MLB without a bubble, was commonplace. Now, maybe folks will start to believe that the NFL will start and start on time — as we have been saying for awhile

For a nine-day period between August 12 and August 20th, 58,397 tests were conducted on players and personnel. Daily testing on Tier 1 and tier 2 individuals focused on 8,573 people including all players and coaches and weekly on tier 3 per.

Of the 23,260 tests on players, there were no positives. Although we did discuss the 77 false positives, one can see why the NFL either had a bad outbreak or there was testing irregularties. It turns out that there was “contamination” from the lab in New Jersey.

There were six positives among the 35,137 Tier 3 personnel with weekly testing.

This is certainly great news. Given the well under 5% positivity rate, which we knew would be the case, there is no longer a need for daily testing. These results rival the results of other professional league bubbles.

Congrats to the NFL but let’s not get complacent. Travel and games have not started yet. The key is to not let the guard down and stay socially distanced. Understanding the concept of viral load, done the right way, there is less of a chance of getting COVID on Sundays than in the six days a week in the facility.

So far so good, but a long ways to go.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- 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.


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  1. Thank you, Doctor Chao…excellent news!!!
    I speak for myself only, but I’m looking forward to ONE PRO SPORT that can hopefully operate in a clean environment, so we can have fun watching and cracking some Bud Lights.
    If I see BLM on the field…or along the walls…this tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

  2. I know the kneeling is not about the flag but I might suggest a new way to deliver the message more effectively. Perhaps on the first snap from scrimmage for each team, the offense (and defense) kneel in unison after being set and generates an illegal procedure penalty which the other team declines. With the game under way, draws more attention. Thoughts?

  3. Here’s a thought kneeling IS about the flag and we don’t need messaging from people who are generally ignorant willfully or otherwise about facts. That’s why they do it during the national anthem with the flag displayed its very offensive.and disrespectful to our great country . These athletes living a celebrity lifestyle making millions most citizens could only dream of and yet want to lecture us yeah right thanks but no thanks.

  4. Sorry dr Chao, the kneeling is either a disrespect of the flag and anthem or it’s not. If it’s not, then they wouldn’t do it

    I went to many many football games with my immigrant father and standing for and singing the anthem was his most cherished and enjoyable part. It connected him to the other Americans at the game.

    Kneeling ruins that … maybe it’s already ruined.

  5. Doc – you picked a tough crowd to debate the merits of kneeling, your idea is not that dissimilar to what the EPL does prior to kickoff, once the players are on the field they take a brief moment to allow people to kneel just before the game begins.

    My personal suggestion, and its going to be difficult to do in the COVID19 climate, during the anthem I would have players either link arms or even hold hands as a show of solidarity. The great thing about football is how it brings people together, you don’t see race, you just see a teammate. That’s what America needs, and its the last thing BLM wants, they want to divide us.

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