NFL has no current plans to go to bubble, chief medical officer says

Will more NFL players follow Duvernay-Tardif's lead and opt out of season? (0:42)

Jeremy Fowler breaks down why he can see more players following Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and opting out of the season. (0:42)

The NFL has no immediate plans to shift to a bubble concept in response to the news that at least 13 members of MLB's Miami Marlins have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Instead, according to NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills, the league will continue to focus on quick and efficient handling of positive tests as part of what the league now refers to as a "virtual football bubble."

"We've said all along that we expected there would be positive cases among players and personnel," Sills said in a phone interview with ESPN on Monday. "And there may be a number on each team. As long as this virus is endemic in society, we're going to continue to see new cases.

"What we think is important is that we have protocols in place that can identify those cases as quickly as possible, and make sure that once we identify them, we take the right action, which is to isolate the individual away from the team, get them the appropriate treatment and then do the contact tracing."

The NBA, the WNBA, MLS and the NWSL all implemented bubble structures that allow essential personnel to enter only after extended isolation and multiple negative tests.

Like MLB, the NFL considered doing the same for its 2020 season. But the NFL decided instead on a series of protocols that limit movement and contact at the team facilities, during travel and in games, while giving teams the option to discipline players or other employees who take risky actions when away from the facility.

"We landed at the place where everyone felt the most comfortable," Sills said, "in terms of the safety balanced against the pragmatic aspects."

No options have been ruled out moving forward, Sills said, but he said the NFL's current protocols amount to a "virtual" bubble around each team.

"When you talk about a 'bubble,'" he said, "people define that term differently. Some people define it one way and others define it another way. We would say that we already have a virtual football bubble, because as we said before, everyone in our team environment shares the same risk, but they share the same responsibility to each other. At the facility, they share a responsibility for what they're doing, but they also share a responsibility when they're away from the facility.

"This isn't just about players. It's coaches, staff and their families. We want them to make good choices, the same way we do all of society. We want them to wear masks, practice good hygiene, stay away from sick people and large gatherings. All of those things are going to be critical to the success of our season, and that's why we're spending a lot of time on education and making sure that everyone hears that message and is on the same page."

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson expressed similar sentiments Monday while speaking to reporters from the team's NovaCare Complex.

"I feel extremely safe," Pederson said. "This is our bubble right here at NovaCare. I can't control everything, we can't control everything. There are probably going to be some things that come up down the road, but right now I feel extremely safe and this is a great environment for our players to succeed in."

The bulk of the NFL's players are scheduled to report to training camp Tuesday. According to protocols updated late last week by the league, players must produce three negative results over a four-day period. If so, they would then begin daily testing on the fifth day and be admitted to the team's facility. Earlier versions of the protocol required only two negative tests before entry to the facility.

ESPN staff writer Tim McManus contributed to this story.