The NFL went through one of its biggest COVID-19 scares of training camp after there were 77 positive tests that came about on Saturday. Upon further examination for this spike, however, it was revealed that these were false-positives as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports that all of the original tests were rerun on Sunday night and each of them came back negative for the coronavirus. Those 77 individuals also underwent additional testing and all of those tests came back negative as well.
On Monday, Jon R. Cohen, M.D., the Executive Chairman of BioReference Laboratories, the testing partner of the NFL, released a statement explaining that these false-positives were due to an isolated contamination in the New Jersey lab.
"On August 22, BioReference Laboratories reported an elevated number of positive COVID-19 PCR test results for NFL players and personnel at multiple clubs. The NFL immediately took necessary actions to ensure the safety of the players and personnel. Our investigation indicated that these were most likely false positive results, caused by an isolated contamination during test preparation in the New Jersey laboratory. Reagents, analyzers and staff were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing has indicated that the issue has been resolved. All individuals impacted have been confirmed negative and informed."
Several NFL clubs altered their training camp schedules due to this scare, including the Cleveland Browns, who closed the facility for a brief period of time on Sunday, underwent a thorough deep-cleaning and disinfection before opening it back up later that afternoon. The Bears and Patriots were some of the other clubs that dealt with false-positive COVID-19 test results over the weekend.
Off the heels of this incident, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the league is working with the lab on ways to re-test personnel immediately so there is no lag time, as was the case this weekend. Having speedy turnaround times on these re-tests will be pivotal for the league in the event that something similar occurs during the regular season. Having the ability to get instant results could help prevent games from being postponed or delayed.