NEW YORK TIMES - The NFL didn’t just play football this season, it conducted an enormous coronavirus testing program: More than one million tests administered daily over a six-month period to more than 6,000 players, coaches, and staff members. While few organizations have the tens of millions of dollars needed to test every employee every day, let alone track their movements to see where they contracted the virus, the league learned lessons that could help scientists and other sports leagues.
Scientists who try to predict how viruses travel through communities are eager to see the NFL’s testing data to fine-tune their models. Donald Burke, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, said the data could help him understand how long infected people have been in the community spreading the virus. The NFL’s data, including more than 700 positive cases over six months, “sound like an incredible way to figure out transmission patterns, which is still a dark art,” he said. “That’s plenty ofcases to learn from, and what went wrong and what didn’t work.”
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Photo: The Super Bowl fan experience at the Tampa Riverwalk includes signage for coronavirus protocols. (Eve Edelheit for The New York Times)