Report: NFL testing new facemasks with surgical material built in to protect players amid coronavirus

NFL players could end up wearing new facemasks this fall with some form of either surgical or N95 material built in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thom Mayer, the NFL Players Association medical director, recommended that players wear modified facemasks in the upcoming season to help protect themselves, and said that league engineers are currently testing prototypes with Oakley, Inc.

“Yes, it’s a possibility,” Mayer said Monday, via ESPN. “Back in early March, I suggested ways to handle the helmets and the facemasks ... the league’s bioengineers are testing prototypes with Oakley. They’re looking at every issue, including when masks fog up.”

It’s not clear what those new facemasks would look like, or if they would be used at all.

There were more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Monday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and nearly 90,000 deaths attributed to it. The federal government has recommended that people wear facemasks or some sort of face covering when outside to help curb the spread of the virus. Many businesses and even some cities have required them, too.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

The NFL, like nearly every other sports league in the country, is working to figure out how to best hold the season amid the global pandemic. It has said that it plans to start the season on time in September, though will likely have to do so without fans in attendance — at least initially. Plenty of other precautions are sure to be implemented, too.

While a modified facemask wouldn’t protect players completely from contracting the virus, it could certainly help.

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