NFL defends choice to play Steelers-Ravens

The NFL defended its choice to play a recreation Wednesday between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, saying it was assured {that a} COVID-19 outbreak amongst Ravens gamers and employees had concluded and posed no risk for additional an infection.

“We are able to say with confidence that there isn’t any energetic an infection among the many gamers, coaches and employees on the Ravens sideline right now,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills mentioned throughout a convention name two hours earlier than kickoff.

All members of the Ravens’ touring occasion returned unfavorable outcomes throughout speedy point-of-care checks Wednesday morning. Earlier than that, nonetheless, the group had produced 10 consecutive days of at the least one optimistic take a look at, together with at the least 14 gamers. The Ravens have been set to tackle the Steelers with out quarterback Lamar Jackson, amongst many different key gamers.

However Sills mentioned the league had used its contact tracing instruments, from digital monitoring gadgets to genomic sequencing to inner video, to undertaking the Ravens’ doubtless course of the transmission based mostly on shut contacts of optimistic people. The league’s mannequin got here inside sooner or later of precisely predicting the top of the outbreak, Sills mentioned.

“We are able to actually drill down and perceive, did the virus move from Particular person A to Particular person B to Particular person C? Or are these separate strains of transmission that come out of the group?” Sills mentioned. “We take all of the items of the puzzle collectively to proceed to assemble a extra clear image of the outbreak. … We have additionally used a tenet of when it is secure to renew and take into account enjoying video games, and that’s once we know that transmission is known to have stopped and that we do not have issues about ongoing people turning optimistic or being in danger. We have completed that persistently all through this outbreak with Baltimore.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell, in the meantime, referred to as it a “exceptional achievement” for the league to have made it by 12 of its 17 regular-season weeks with out canceling a recreation. He mentioned the league’s “collective aim” is to finish the season and added “we’re on a path to do this” regardless of rising an infection charges across the nation. The league continues to debate its choices for the playoffs, together with the opportunity of modified native bubbles for groups that advance. Goodell has dominated out a standard bubble that may put the league underneath one roof.

Talking for the primary time since he refused to delay Sunday’s recreation between the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos, for which all 4 Broncos quarterbacks have been positioned in COVID-19 isolation, Goodell reiterated that the league won’t take aggressive implications into consideration.

“Well being and medical choices have and at all times will take priority over aggressive issues and enterprise curiosity,” he mentioned.

Three Broncos quarterbacks have been labeled as “high-risk” shut contacts of quarterback Jeff Driskel — who returned a optimistic take a look at final Thursday — as a result of they did not consistently wear masks or keep social distance throughout a gathering on the crew facility two days earlier than. Sills has credited the “high-risk” classification for decreasing the unfold of an infection in crew services, and in keeping with Goodell, greater than 20 high-risk gamers, coaches or staffers have examined optimistic for COVID-19 whereas in isolation.

Sills mentioned that coverage, in addition to one other that has positioned all 32 groups into “intensive” protocols, has helped decrease every day positivity charges. A complete of 156 individuals returned optimistic checks between Nov. 15-28, a mean of 11.1 per day, in keeping with NFL knowledge. However prior to now three days, Sills mentioned, there have been a complete of 10 confirmed optimistic checks across the league.

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