Lehigh Athletics Shares Health and Safety Guidelines
BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – Lehigh Athletics is dedicated to health and safety as the department goes through a thorough process to ensure competitions are safe.
The process introduced by Lehigh requires people defined as Tier 1 in basketball and wrestling, sports that are currently in season, to perform a COVID-19 PCR test three times a week on non-consecutive days, the last one Test takes place within 72 hours before the competition. A similar procedure will be required for other sports as they are allowed to begin training and competition, with test frequency being a function of the relative likelihood of virus transmission in each sport, as reported by an NCAA panel of medical advisors to the Office of. set sports science. Regular testing is a proven means of improving a community’s health, and Lehigh Athletics’ testing program meets or exceeds the testing guidelines of the NCAA, Patriot League, and EIWA. Lehigh Athletics works with the Lehigh Valley Health Network for testing.
“For the past seven months, the Athletics COVID-19 Steering Committee, Athletics COVID Response Team, and numerous sub-groups have worked to create a safe and healthy environment that allows our student athletes to participate in activities that are intended for our core mission from learning to support and advance her personal growth and preparation for lifelong leadership, “said Tim Doane, Lehigh’s Director of Sports Medicine and Co-Chair of the Athletics COVID Steering Committee.
“The development and implementation of our ever-evolving protocols and procedures is the result of more than 100 trainers and staff coming together with a shared understanding that the health and safety of staff, student athletes and the campus community is our top priority The Athletics COVID-19 Management Plan maintains compliance with guidelines from the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Bethlehem Health Bureau, Lehigh University COVID-19 Response Team, the NCAA, the Patriot League, and the National Athletic Trainers Association .
Level 1 is the highest level of exposure and consists of individuals for whom physical distancing and face covering are not always possible or effective during athletic training or competition. Examples of relevant people are student athletes, coaches, sports coaches, physical therapists, medical personnel, equipment personnel, and officials.
Upon notification of a positive test result, all team activities are suspended until exposure is checked and close contacts are identified by trained contact tracers. Close contact is defined as contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis two days before the person’s symptoms start, or two days before the person tests positive (if asymptomatic). Exposure is defined by a number of circumstances including, but not limited to, being within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period. People with a positive test will need to isolate themselves for 10 days, and a person’s close contacts with the COVID-19 virus will need to be quarantined for 14 days to ensure no symptoms occur during this time.
Members of the Lehigh University Sports Medicine Department and other designated athletics personnel (not coaches) coordinate the contact tracing process for student athletes and coaches who may have been in contact with an infected person. Designated contact tracers are required to complete the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center contact tracing training course.
Once the contact tracing process is complete and all close contacts have been quarantined, activities for Tier 1 people who have not been identified as close contacts can be resumed.
“It was about dividing up and figuring out who had to go where,” said Catharine Rudio, deputy director of sports medicine, who was at the forefront of the department’s contact tracing process. “It’s really about gathering as much information as possible and figuring out who needs to go into quarantine, who may be in quarantine, and who can still go on as usual. Rather, it’s about establishing the facts with a little research because you have to call and ask specific questions and trust that you will get truthful answers. “
Rudio found that the value of internal contact tracing is that it speeds up the process of quarantining people or getting them back into sports. Contact tracing by external parties can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
“Our team of contact tracers within athletics have worked tirelessly to quickly identify and quarantine exposed individuals,” said Doane. “They did a phenomenal job of keeping close contacts and preventing further spread among our currently competing teams.”
In the positive case and after the conclusion of the contract, a discussion takes place between the health service or the medical staff of each institution involved in the scheduled competition. If health care or medical parties agree that a competition with athletes who have not had close contact with an infected person can be done safely, final approval will be sought from the Athletics Administration and league officials.
An obvious consequence of this process is that a change in original planning is more likely in the current healthcare environment. The goal of the Athletics Administrators is to provide the student athletes with an opportunity to enhance their developmental experience through competitive experience while ensuring the health and safety of all involved in that effort. This obligation has required and likely will continue to require “training breaks,” changes to competition schedules, and the isolation or quarantine of individuals and their close contacts if positive test results are found. In such cases, as dictated by federal data protection laws, the specific identities of those who pass positive tests are not made public.
“We are trying to strike that balance between contact tracing and following proper policies and procedures regarding COVID, as well as working on the health, safety and wellbeing of student athletes – practice, rehab treatments if necessary, assessment and prevention “, said Rudio.” It performs our normal tasks as a sports trainer and merges them with the COVID logs and contact tracers. “