Athletes Unlimited has partnered with several organizations to develop the health and safety protocols described here, including Environmental Health & Engineering; Sports Innovation Lab; and Dr. Lucia Mullen, Dr. Crystal Watson, Dr. Caitlin Rivers, and Dr. Caroline Choi. Team USA volleyball member Foluke Akinradewo is also an advisor for COVID-19 planning. Athletes Unlimited reserves the right to update these protocols as needed.
Pre-Season Testing and Travel
All 56 athletes and all essential staff are required to submit a Polymerase Chain Reaction (“PCR”) test prior to arrival in Rosemont, which is a test that detects an active COVID-19 infection via nasal swab or saliva sample. These tests have been offered to athletes and staff in partnership with InjureFree™ and MDBox.
Negative results are required for clearance to travel, either by plane or by personal vehicle. Individuals who test positive for the virus must remain at home under quarantine for a minimum of 10 days as recommended by the CDC. After 10 days, individuals will be asked to take another PCR test and, upon confirmation of a negative result, will be able to come into Rosemont.
Athletes and essential staff are also required to complete and submit daily symptom questionnaires once test results have been processed and are expected to submit these questionnaires until the end of their contractual commitment to the season. Individuals who report coronavirus-like symptoms will refrain from participating in league activities and will be monitored by medical staff, who will also interview the individuals to identify close contacts.
Arriving in Rosemont
Essential staff will undergo an additional rapid test approximately 72 hours after arrival in market and are asked to follow strict social distancing requirements while performing and supervising on-site responsibilities. Staff members who test negative for COVID-19 are then cleared for general league activities.
Athletes will undergo two rapid tests: one the day after arrival in Rosemont and one 72 hours after arrival in Rosemont. During this period of time, athletes will receive general physicals and establish a baseline for symptom monitoring and injury prevention. Athletes are otherwise asked to remain in their residences and participate in league events virtually, except to train in controlled environments. Players who test negative for COVID-19 on both tests are then cleared for general league activities.
Positive test results COVID-19 and/or a report of coronavirus-like symptoms via questionnaire must be reported, and the individual(s) will be isolated immediately, asked to undergo a PCR test for lab analysis, and interviewed to identify close contacts if the test result is positive.
Once individuals are cleared for league activities, they will be tested regularly until the end of their contractual commitment to the season. All athletes, staff, contractors, production crew, and other 3rd party vendors will be tested weekly on the first day of competition each week. In addition, all athletes and essential staff will be tested on Wednesdays during the week.
Rapid tests, which deliver results within 15-30 minutes, will be administered on the scheduled in-season testing dates. If an individual tests positive on the rapid test or begins to experience symptoms during league activities, they will be sent back to their residence and asked to undergo a laboratory-based PCR test.
General Preventative Measures
All athletes, staff, contractors, production crew, and other 3rd party vendors have been asked to attend informational sessions with members of the Athletes Unlimited team and Environmental Health & Engineering to review policies, protocols, and best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19, which include:
- Wearing face coverings/face masks;
- Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between individuals;
- Practicing good personal hygiene, such as washing hands frequently and refraining from touching the face or face covering;
- Opening windows and turning air circulation systems to the highest setting; and
- Regularly sanitizing high-contact surfaces.
Only personnel that agree to follow these above protocols are allowed to be in contact with players during league activities. Athletes and essential staff are not permitted to leave the Rosemont area, nor are permitted to visit indoor establishments, such as restaurants, bars, brick-and-mortar storefronts, or grocery stores. Measures have been taken to limit access to the Stadium, the Dome, all exercise facilities, and all housing complexes.
In-Game Preventative Measures
In addition to the best practices previously mentioned, Athletes Unlimited is asking all individuals to observe good personal hygiene during games, including:
- Refraining from spitting, licking, screaming, whistling, or singing;
- Wearing face coverings and maintaining 6 feet of distance while sitting in the dugout;
- Switching out balls for new ones as they are used;
- Practicing low-contact or contactless celebrations; and
- Limiting time spent in locker rooms.
In addition, Athletes Unlimited will not host any in-stadium fans or sell any concessions for the 2020 Softball season.
Positive COVID-19 Test Procedure
In the event that an individual submits a symptom questionnaire reporting coronavirus-like symptoms, begins to experience symptoms during league activities, or tests positive for COVID-19, the individual must be relocated to a new room immediately, self-isolate, and comply with all requests and tests from medical professionals. The individual is prohibited from participating in any league activities until cleared by the medical team for re-entry.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are symptomatic are required to remain in isolation for a minimum of 10 days after onset of symptoms. Individuals will be monitored frequently and tested regularly by a medical professional to make a determination on when the player can re-enter competition. The player is required to test negative for COVID-19 on two consecutive tests, administered at least 24 hours apart, in addition to following any guidance issued by Dr. Caroline Choi.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic must also enter into isolation and comply with all requests and tests from medical professionals. Should the individual develop symptoms during the quarantine period, they will then be monitored as a symptomatic individual.
Athletes or personnel who are identified as close contacts of the individual(s), defined as being within less than 6 feet of the individual for more than 15 minutes, must automatically enter into isolation for a 14-day period. Close contacts may not test out of quarantine, regardless of any negative test results they receive during this period, and must be cleared by a medical professional for re-entry.
Athletes who must observe isolation protocols during the season may be replaced by an alternative player, depending on the nature, timing, and duration of the infection, as well as the needs of the roster. Once the athlete recovers, they are permitted to re-enter competition and resume accumulating points from where they left off.
Once cleared, the individual must continue to wear face coverings, maintain 6 feet of distance from others whenever possible, and practice good personal hygiene.
Athletes and essential staff who are considered high-risk for severe illness related to COVID-19 must self-identify their condition(s) to the medical team and work with their primary care provider, their teammates, the medical team, and the league to take special care during league activities. Categories include:
- Individuals aged 65 and older
- Individuals who suffer from chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- Individuals who are immunocompromised from solid organ transplant
- Individuals with a BMI of 30 or higher
- Individuals who experience serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathies
- Individuals with sickle cell disease
- Individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus