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NFL COVID-19 mask guidelines
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NFL updates mask guidelines for coaches and staff near benches

FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2018 file photo, the NFL logo is displayed on the field at the Bank of American Stadium before an NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. The NFL revealed Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners, and the Chicago Bears said they had nine false positives. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File)

The NFL has updated its mask guidelines applying to coaches and staff near the benches. The NFL is requiring every coach and staff member in the bench area to wear a mask. 

Additionally, the teams need to reduce the size of their travel parties. Like the NBA, every member of the team will have to follow COVID-19 testing requirements to gain access to the locker room, field, or team charter.

New mask guidelines for the NFL

The Associated Press reported NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league, the NFL Players Association, and medical experts have “developed a comprehensive set of protocols that put us in the best possible position to complete the season, culminating with the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay.”

As reported by the Associated Press, there were four new confirmed positive tests among players and six new confirmed positives among other personnel. That comes from 58,621 tests administered to a total of 8,739 players and team personnel between August 21-29.

“We have been really fortunate that cases of COVID-19 are very low across the league,” Goodell said Tuesday. “It is a testament to the plans, but most importantly to the diligence of the players, the teams, and their staff. I would tell you that we still have more work to do. We are not going to get comfortable. We will remain vigilant, resilient, flexible, and basically adapt to circumstances as needed with public health as our No. 1 priority as we have all this offseason.”

Coronavirus: a relentless opponent

Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, says the league is monitoring and adapting to new developments in testing technology and information. 

“We have a relentless opponent here, which is this virus, and we know that there can be new cases that occur no matter how diligent we are with all of our protocols and our personnel,” Sills said. “So we just have to remain very vigilant and realize that we’re still very early on, but we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen so far.”

The NFL is working with health officials to help determine if and when fans will be allowed in the stands. Some teams are beginning the season with fans. 

“I believe that we may be having a lot of teams that will start with no fans, in the beginning, this season, and then evolve to fans,” Goodell said.

Coaches’ reaction

Some coaches have expressed concern about the inconsistency of the NFL updating their mask guidelines. 

Bills coach Sean McDermott called the change “ridiculous,” according to the AP. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said it’s “unfair” that some teams will have fans and others won’t, the AP reported.

Like the NBA, NFL executive Troy Vincent said the league’s competition committee is still exploring options and finalizing details for artificial crowd noises.