The introduction of vaccines against Covid-19 has helped the NFL reach some level of normalcy again, but it is apparent that the league has yet to return to its pre-pandemic state. Monday was another reminder of that: a total of 36 players tested positive for the Coronavirus, a new single-day record for the NFL.
In fact, the 36 cases are double the previous in-season record set in October 2020. The number also broke the previous record of 24, set on July 28.
The spike is concerning, but not necessarily a surprise. The league is a reflection of its surroundings, after all, and cases in the United States are going up as well. In total, over 200,000 new Covid-19 cases were registered on Monday.
Among the NFL players testing positive was New England Patriots tight end Dalton Keene, who was subsequently moved from injured reserve to the Covid-19 list. The Patriots now have three players on that list, with Keene joining safety Kyle Dugger and running back J.J. Taylor.
New England is among 22 teams that had to send players to the Coronavirus list on Monday. Furthermore, according to a report by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, a Tier 3 staffer with the Washington Football Team — i.e. one not allowed to be in contact with players — tested positive for the new Omicron variant, the first known case in the NFL.
The league has reacted to the recent developments, and sent a memo to inform its clubs about updated immunity requirements on Monday: all Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff need to receive their booster shots by December 27 or lose privileges associated with the respective classification.
The NFL originally introduced its personnel tiers last year, with Tier 1 including players, coaches, athletic trainers, team physicians, as well as the conditioning and equipment staffs. Tier 2, meanwhile, consists of non-playing personnel that needs to be in close contact with players and other Tier 1 personnel. This group includes, among others, trainers, physicians, general managers, and employees of the football operations.
For comparison, Tier 3 is individuals who perform essential facility, stadium or event services but do not require close contact with Tier 1.