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A refresher on the NFL’s current COVID-19 testing guidelines

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock will not be playing in Thursday’s preseason home game against the Chicago Bears after testing positive for COVID-19. The Seahawks have kept reported COVID-19 infections to a minimum since the pandemic began in 2020, and even this offseason/preseason it looks like confirmed positives have happened to just Lock and head coach Pete Carroll.

You might be curious as to why testing has continued even though the NFL and NFLPA lifted COVID-19 protocols back in March. Well beyond the pandemic not actually being over, the protocols removed included no longer having to wear the tracking devices, no more mandatory testing for personnel (whether vaccinated or unvaccinated), and the removal of masking requirements (unless specified by local or state law).

However, what did remain in place was effectively an honor system as far as individuals checking themselves for any possible COVID symptoms.

Per the NFL memo:

“All individuals must continue to monitor themselves for symptoms on a daily basis prior to entering the club facility. Any individual experiencing COVID symptoms must promptly report them to the club [Infection Control Officer] and must be tested and receive a negative test result prior to entering the club facility. Any individual who tests positive for COVID must isolate for five (5) days after [their] positive test, consistent with CDC guidance and as set forth in the December 28 memorandum.”

Then once June rolled around, COVID surveillance testing of personnel was also eliminated. But that didn’t mean an elimination of testing entirely.

Pete Carroll’s positive test came with “mild symptoms” which he’s clearly recovered from. Kyler Murray and Kirk Cousins’ respective positive tests also involved minor symptoms. Based on Pete’s remarks on Wednesday, Lock was experiencing symptoms during Tuesday’s practice and that was what prompted the test and subsequent positive result.

Obviously in his case, he’d already entered the club facility but he presumably reported his symptoms.

Hopefully that clarifies things moving forward, but much like this virus, the rules can always evolve depending on the situation.