NFL Reduces Isolation Time for COVID-Positive, Asymptomatic Players to 5 Days

The NFL informed teams of updated COVID protocols Tuesday, aligning with the CDC's new five-day isolation recommendation followed by masking after a positive COVID test.

The previous policy required anyone who tested positive to be removed from team activities and games for 10 days, or until they returned consecutive negative COVID tests.

The NFL sent a memo to teams that the policies were agreed to by the league and the NFL Players Association. The memo was obtained by The Associated Press.

According to the reporting from the AP, NFL players and other essential personnel can return to the team under these conditions:

— Five days have passed since a positive COVID-19 test.

— At least 24 hours have passed since the individual last had a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

— Other symptoms, including a cough, have resolved or improved.

— The club's head primary care sports medicine physician, after consultation with Infection Control for Sports and notification of the NFL chief medical officer, determines that the individual may return to the club facility and interact with other club employees/contractors.

— Any local regulations or requirements are satisfied.

Those who are fully vaccinated can continue to return from isolation sooner than five days assuming they return negative tests, and under the new policy can stop testing after five days and return if they meet the conditions listed above.

NFL COVID Policy, Asymptomatic, Vaccinated, Carson Wentz
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, in Glendale, Ariz. Under new COVID policies from the NFL, Wentz, who was placed on the COVID list Tuesday, could return in as soon as 5 days for the Colts next game Sunday. Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The changes could allow Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to return for Sunday's key game against Las Vegas after Indianapolis placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

It was not immediately clear whether Wentz tested positive for the virus or was deemed a close contact to someone else who had tested positive. However, if Wentz has no symptoms, he could be cleared to play.

Masks must be worn on the sideline and at all times except when playing and practicing for five days after return.

Masks must be worn by all players and staff indoors at team facilities. Players and staff are not permitted to eat together. A limit of 15 people applies for weight rooms. Also, even fully vaccinated staff and players are encouraged to avoid public areas including restaurants, bars and social gatherings.

The Tennessee Titans, who can clinch the AFC South with either a win or a Colts' loss, added linebacker Jayon Brown and practice squad receiver Cody Hollister, who has played three of the past four games including one start. They later added defensive end Denico Autry, who has eight sacks this season, to bring the Titans' total to 10, not counting an 11th player out for the season on injured reserve.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating at home.

The team said Tuesday that assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin will serve as interim head coach in Arians' absence. The reigning Super Bowl champions visit the New York Jets on Sunday.

Arians said in a statement released by the team: "I tested positive for COVID-19 this morning but have only experienced mild symptoms to this point. Harold Goodwin will take over my duties during my absence. I have complete confidence in him and the rest of our coaching staff to prepare the team for this week's game against the Jets. I look forward to rejoining the team and being back in the facility as soon as I can test back in."

Meanwhile, the Bucs also placed cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That increases the number of Tampa Bay players on the list to five.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NFL COVID Policy, Asymptomatic, Vaccinated
The NFL logo is pictured ahead of the game between the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on Dec. 5, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. The NFL informed teams in a memo Tuesday of updated COVID policies reflecting the new CDC guidance that those who test positive and are asymptomatic can return to their teams in five days instead of the previous 10. Nic Antaya/Getty Images