The NCAA also released guidelines from its COVID-19 Advisory Panel for getting teams up and running on campuses. The guidelines start with students back at school, which has become a familiar refrain among college sports leaders in recent weeks.
The NCAA's recommendations incorporate a recent three-phase plan from the White House for restarting the economy that account for regional differences in the fight against COVID-19 and certain benchmarks being reached.
“Once COVID-19 infection rates diminish for at least 2 weeks, resocialization of society and sport may be possible,” the NCAA guidance states. The NCAA is also recommending a three-phase plan, with practice facilities reopening in phase three.
Hainline participated in a call earlier this week with medical officers of professional sports leagues and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.
“What we really discussed in some detail was: What is it going to take to get sport back? And I will tell you that 80% of the conversation centered around testing,” Hainline said. ”And more specifically, what happens in contact sports like basketball or football, when one of the players tests positive. Does that mean quarantine? Does that mean we do very regular testing?
“And I think that’s the granular type of detail that we still don’t have universal agreement for two reasons: One is we don’t have all of the ready-made, point-of-care tests. And number two, the serology tests that are out there to date, they just aren't reliable.”
The priority is to be able to test athletes, coaches and support staff so competition can begin, Hainline said.
Determining whether games can be played in front of fans is a lower priority.
“I think realistically having a football game with 90,000 fans, that would take a remarkable turnaround in a short period of time,” Hainline said.
He said it would take massive immunity, a breakthrough in treatment of the virus or the ability to rapidly and efficiently test people as they enter stadiums.
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