NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Says Asymptomatic People Are Not Spreading COVID-19

Following a major increase of positive COVID-19 cases inside NFL facilities, the league and the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) agreed to scale back testing of vaccinated players last week, focusing on players who are showing symptoms of the virus and ending the required weekly testing of vaccinated players. 

On Thursday, NFL chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, was asked about the level of concern regarding the possibility of asymptomatic players spreading COVID-19 with testing now being scaled back. 

“We’ve really not seen this phenomenon that people have discussed, which is asymptomatic people in the facility spreading virus to others,” Sills said in an interview with NFL Network. “As we’ve gone back and looked throughout the entire season, what we’ve seen consistently is when people have symptoms, that’s when they seem to be contagious to others. And that’s why we’re asking people to come forward and acknowledge those symptoms, because that’s the point at which they’re vulnerable and the point at which they expose themselves to others.”

The NFL was forced to move three week-15 games due to COVID-19 outbreaks, which resulted in a more targeted testing approach, and “stringent symptom screening” before team members enter team facilities. 

“I think all of our concern about [asymptomatic spread] has been going down based on what we’ve been seeing throughout the past several months,” Sills told ESPN. “We’ve got our hands full with symptomatic people. Can I tell you tonight that there has never been a case when someone without symptoms passed it on to someone else? No, of course I can’t say that. But what I can say to you is that I think it’s a very, very tiny fraction of the overall problem, if it exists at all.”

“Clearly if you want to look at the overall pattern and concern about transmission, it is not being driven by people who have no idea that they are infected and they are infecting scores of others. This is being driven by people with symptoms and the exposures during that symptomatic period.” 

The newly updated protocols allow for players to return to the field in a shorter period of time, focusing on the CT value of a player — which measures whether a player is still contagious — instead of the previous rule which required vaccinated players to return two negative tests 24 hours apart.

“Asymptomatic transmission inside our facilities just didn’t fit with what we were seeing,” Sills said to ESPN.

“Once it replicates enough to cause you to have symptoms,” he added, “now there’s enough there for us to say that you’re going to be shedding it out in a live form to infect someone else. It’s really a matter of degree of how strongly we think you may be infected. You have to get to a point where you’re infected enough that you’re beginning to shed active viral particles, and that usually correlates with the onset of symptoms.”

The NFL has two games scheduled for Christmas Day, with the Cleveland Browns traveling to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers, and the Arizona Cardinals welcoming the Indianapolis Colts to Glendale, Arizona.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

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