Dr. Allen Sills says broad COVID-19 testing needed before play resumes

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, offered a sobering reality check for those anxious to restart sports as the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread.
In an interview published by NFL media on the league's website, Sills explained why practicing or playing football – or any other sport in the near future – is going to be easier said than done.
“As long as we're still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don't think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport,” Sills said according to NFL.com. "Because we're going to have positive cases for a very long time.”

The league’s offseason program was originally scheduled to begin Monday for teams that hired a new head coach, including the Browns, but with most states under a stay at home or shelter in place order, that has been delayed indefinitely.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is awaiting instructions from the NFL on how to move forward this month with preparations for the 2020 season.

“I have spoken to a couple of people and our team has spoken to a few people, but we have not gotten exactly what it will look like,” Stefanski said Thursday afternoon. “I do not have a firm grasp of exactly of what this offseason program will look like, but I will tell you that we have spent so much time thinking of the different ways it could go that whatever the rules and whatever they bring up, we will be ready.”

Jeff Pash, the NFL's general counsel, said earlier this week the league was focusing on playing a full season in front of fans. Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam sent a letter to fans in an email last week expressing the same optimism.

Sills didn’t sound as optimistic.

“I would say that's everyone's hope, that we are in a position to do that,” Sills said. “But the reality is none of us know those facts for certain right now. We hope and pray for the best and prepare for the worst, realizing that is one potential outcome that we will be back fully in business playing games as normal in front of fans on schedule. But it's certainly not the only outcome. And I think what was implied there was to say we are not at a point where we are saying that is absolutely not going to happen so we should continue our planning and preparations as if we're going to be able to do that. But obviously we're going to have to evaluate that along the way. And follow what the recommendations are from public health officials and from our infectious disease experts and others.”