SAFETY

Orlando Sentinel - - Sports Weekend -

is the health and safety of our play­ers, coaches and staff that will be on the cam­pus at Dis­ney,” Martins said. “We have con­sulted with some of the top med­i­cal ex­perts in the coun­try, epi­demi­ol­o­gists from Columbia Univer­sity and Johns Hop­kins, and oth­ers, [in­clud­ing] a former sur­geon gen­eral [Vivek Murthy].

“So a lot of time and ef­fort has been put into the safety pro­to­cols. We're con­fi­dent that the pro­to­cols that are in place will keep every­body on the Dis­ney cam­pus con­fined and amongst each other, and with lit­tle to no ex­po­sure of any­one else from the com­mu­nity. So in say­ing that, I'm con­fi­dent that we have a safe plan in place and that de­spite the re­cent rise in cases in Florida that it will be a safe en­vi­ron­ment for all of our play­ers, coaches and staff that are at Dis­ney.”

Or­lando City CEO Alex Leitão said he has heard the ques­tions about test re­sults and is con­fi­dent Cen­tral Florida can be a safe host.

“What the au­thor­i­ties re­ally care [about] and are look­ing into are hos­pi­tal­iza­tions. The use of ICUs,” he said. “And ev­ery death mat­ters, of course. … We have our minds and hearts think­ing of those peo­ple.

“But the point is, that [hospi­tal­iza­tion] trend is re­ally the one that we have to take care of and look into and that trend is very pos­i­tive for us.”

Dr. An­thony Fauci, di­rec­tor of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Al­lergy and In­fec­tious

Diseases who has gained in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for his work, told Sta­dium he thought plans that call for bub­ble-like iso­la­tion are the safest.

“I ac­tu­ally had looked at that [NBA] plan and it is re­ally quite creative what they are re­ally try­ing to do and I think they might very well be quite suc­cess­ful with it, is to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where it is as safe as it pos­si­bly could be for the play­ers by creat­ing this bub­ble,” he said.

“… It's a sound plan. I was very pleased to see the in­tent was not reck­less at all. They re­ally wanted to make sure that the safety of the play­ers and the peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with the play­ers was paramount.”

Given the in­creased spread of COVID-19, will the NBA and MLS be tak­ing too many needed health re­sources away from the Or­lando area?

MLS is donat­ing tests to as­sure it doesn't de­plete the lo­cal in­ven­tory and the NBA also has pledged to not add strain any­where it op­er­ates.

With two ma­jor hos­pi­tal sys­tems in Or­lando, leagues of­fi­cials also are con­fi­dent they won't use med­i­cal sup­plies needed else­where while treat­ing any emer­gency in­juries.

“I ab­so­lutely be­lieve it still makes sense,” Martins said. “There will be no im­pact on lo­cal re­sources what­so­ever. Both our team and our league have been in con­tact with the Florida De­part­ment of Health, and Dr. [Raul] Pino, [the Health Of­fi­cer for the De­part­ment of Health in Or­ange

County] in par­tic­u­lar, and we've been as­sured there are plenty of re­sources avail­able for our lo­cal res­i­dents and that we won't be hav­ing any neg­a­tive im­pact on that what­so­ever.”

Will the leagues stop play if ath­letes test pos­i­tive for COVID-19?

Right now, no. But those who worked on elab­o­rate plans to re­sume play un­der­stand they may have to adapt to new con­di­tions.

The NBA and MLS both cur­rently have safety guide­lines that call for iso­lat­ing play­ers or staff who test pos­i­tive and then con­duct­ing con­tact trac­ing, but not sus­pend­ing play. A player or staff mem­ber will need to test neg­a­tive for COVID-19 mul­ti­ple times in or­der to re­sume play or work af­ter a pos­i­tive test re­sult.

“We know more to­day than when this virus started,” Martins said. “I think we know that pro­vided that we do reg­u­lar test­ing, pro­vided that if some­one were to test pos­i­tive we put them in a quar­an­tine sit­u­a­tion, the be­lief is that we can play and keep those safety pro­to­cols in place with­out hav­ing the dan­ger of ma­jor spread. That's the hope, but you also just have to take it day by day.

“The study of safety pro­to­cols and en­sur­ing the safety of every­body has been ex­haus­tive and I'm con­fi­dent that it's go­ing to be a safe en­vi­ron­ment.”

MLS Com­mis­sioner Don Gar­ber said there is no set num­ber of pos­i­tive tests that would trigger sus­pend­ing play.

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