Rodgers, Packers Releases Cloud NFL COVID-19 Figures Progress – Community News
Covid-19

Rodgers, Packers Releases Cloud NFL COVID-19 Figures Progress

NEW YORK (AP) — When the league’s reigning MVP and several other key players enact the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, it clouds the numbers that point to significant progress in protecting against the coronavirus.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers went into protocol last week and missed a header game with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. So did Giants who drove Saquon Barkley back. Other key players who sometimes sit outside this season include Packers receiver Davante Adams, a 2020 All-Pro; Vikings Striking Safety Harrison Smith; and Bucs without Antonio Brown.

Coaches are all required to be vaccinated according to league guidelines, but Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury and Chicago’s Matt Nagy have been inactive for competitions due to COVID-19 protocols.

Compared to a year ago, when 18 games were postponed or moved due to COVID-19 outbreaks or restrictions, 2021 has gone relatively well. While several teams have transitioned to improved protocols at their facilities, the schedule has not been interrupted midway.

“We’re still learning a lot, every week we continue to review our data, just like last year, and adjust our protocols,” said Dr. Allen Sills, Chief Medical Officer of the NFL. “We continue to speak regularly with the CDC, the FDA, other public health officials and infectious disease experts across the country.”

While praising the vaccination rate among players (over 94%), Sills added:

“We still don’t see any evidence of COVID spread outside, on the pitch, which I think is important. And we certainly see that vaccinated individuals have a milder disease: shorter duration, fewer symptoms overall. So those are positive trends.”

Sills also noted at owner’s meetings late last month that symptom reporting has been key to preventing outbreaks and will remain a focus for the rest of the season.

“We’ve seen in some of our cases clusters that people who have been vaccinated don’t often recognize the symptoms of COVID disease because they’re different from what we saw last year,” he said. “So we really emphasized, to borrow a phrase from the TSA, that ‘if you feel something, say something’, because we think it’s important for people to speak up and get tested.

“I really think that…. we certainly see the impact of vaccines. We see that impact in the number of cases we have, we don’t see the clustering of cases that we saw last year. We don’t see the uncontrolled spread.”

A prime example of this happened in October with the Arizona Cardinals, forcing Kingsbury to miss a game. Data showed through genetic sequencing that of the first seven cases in that cluster, five were different strains of the virus. That indicated a spread within the team facility and from person to person, but exposure came outside the facility.

“So again, I think we’re seeing a substantial effect in a beneficial way from the vaccines,” Sills said. “If we had had that kind of exposure last year when no one was protected, I think we would have had a very, very different outcome.”

What awaits the league if the league continually reviews its protocols as it tries to complete a second consecutive schedule without losing a match to COVID-19?

“I think I’d say right now we’re happy with where we are, but it’s not a point where we want to take our foot off the accelerator,” Sills said. “We definitely still see, as we’ve seen before with the situation in Arizona, high levels of community exposure. So I think we need to stay vigilant, but we’ll definitely look at the data and not just think about withdrawing, but look at where the protocol can become more effective.

“You know, what are the parts of it that really keep us safe, what are the parts that prevent transmission, and how can we adapt as we see new knowledge come out?”

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