After shuffling three games of its weekend schedule due to the number of players testing positive for COVID-19, the National Football League is calling an audible. The sport is dropping compulsory testing for vaccinated athletes, and will only hold out players who are showing significant symptoms from the disease. Young and healthy individuals have routinely been shown to have little risk from COVID-19, and the league is moving to sync its policies for the virus with what is already in place for influenza and other seasonal respiratory infections.
The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League have not been spared, even though all organizations boast vaccination rates of well over 90%. The Brooklyn Nets were required to have all players be fully immunized to even take the court for their home fans. Eight players on that squad, including superstar Kevin Durant, have been forced to enter quarantine thanks to the health and safety protocols in place. The Detroit Red Wings have suspended operations until December 26th, postponing this week’s games and General Manager Steve Yzerman is speaking out.
It is likely that the NBA and NHL will move in the direction of the NFL soon. If the shift in approach is adopted for schools and other businesses, it would have far-reaching consequences for how we try to manage the pandemic.