NFL, players union agree to cut COVID-19 isolation time to 5 days

The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have agreed that players who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic can end their isolation periods after five days, a move in accordance with new guidance for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new rule will apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated players, but vaccinated players can "test out" of quarantine before the five days pass, according to the agreement seen by ESPN. 

The NFL previously required unvaccinated players who tested positive to isolate for ten days.

The NFL and NFLPA recently changed their testing procedures as well to eliminate weekly tests and focus on players with symptoms, ESPN reported. 

The changes come as the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is highly contagious but is not generally expected to lead to severe cases in vaccinated and boosted people, has ripped through the nation and scrambled sports leagues. 

NFL teams have been hit hard, with games postponed as teams struggle to field enough players under the old rules. The new rules should allow people to return to the field more quickly.

A record-setting 106 players tested positive for the virus on Monday, and 515 players have tested positive since Dec. 13, ESPN noted. 

Amid the uptick in infections, the new CDC guidance has received mixed opinions.

While Anthony Fauci, the government's leading infectious disease expert, has said he thinks the decision is a good choice, former Surgeon General Jerome Adams disagreed, saying a negative test should come before someone who is asymptomatic ends their isolation. 

"I love the CDC. Grew up wanting to work there and have been one of their most ardent defenders. I never dreamed the day would come when I would advise people NOT to follow their guidance," Adams said in a tweet on Tuesday of the new guidance. "They wouldn’t even follow it for their own family."

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