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NFL tightens coronavirus testing and rules

The league is making changes after rescheduling a total of nine games during the past weekend.

NFL: JAN 29 Super Bowl LIV - Commissioners Press Conference Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Tuesday evening, the NFL is increasing the number of coronavirus tests being administered and tightening other related rules.

This comes after a week in which the NFL had to reschedule nine games (including the Week 6 Kansas City Chiefs game against the Buffalo Bills, which will now be played at 4 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Monday) in order to work around positive coronavirus tests on a number of its teams.

Individuals in Tier 1 (players, coaches and trainers) and Tier 2 (general managers, other assistant coaches and football operations employees) were already subject to daily coronavirus testing — except on game days. But in the event there were positive tests on a team during the week — as we saw with the Chiefs going into the Week 4 game against the New England Patriots — tests were also conducted on game day.

Under the new rules, game-day testing will be required for everyone in Tier 1 and Tier 2 on every team.

The new rules also mandate that players will be required to wear masks during walkthrough practices. Face shields will no longer be allowed in lieu of masks, except for coaches (like Chiefs head coach Andy Reid) who have play-calling duties during games.

On Tuesday, NFL owners will meet virtually to discuss their response to the latest round of positive tests and schedule reshuffling. NFL.com reported that while the owners will be considering adding an 18th week in order to more easily reschedule games, there is little support for the change unless it becomes absolutely necessary — but it won’t take many more schedule changes like we saw in Week 5 for that to be the case.