The NBA’s return-to-play plan at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is being lauded for its creativity and safety. Despite the global pandemic making large gatherings extremely difficult, the league has found a way to get close to 1,000 people into one area while reducing risk of an outbreak.
Consistent testing, rules about quarantining, and physical distancing measures all ensure that one or two positive tests will not shut down league operations a second time. While testing and having certain rules in place makes things easier, it does not guarantee that players will remain six feet apart at all times.
That of course has been a recommendation from public health officials since this pandemic began. To alleviate this, players and staff will be given a device that warns them if they are within six feet of someone else for longer than five seconds, and they can also wear an Oura ring that helps detect COVID-19 symptoms, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Players will be asked to wear an optional “proximity alarm” that would notify the player if he spends more than five seconds within six feet of another person wearing an alarm. The device will only be mandatory for team and league staff members, according to the union memo, which also states that players will be given the option of wearing “an Oura smart ring” that tracks temperature, respiratory and heart rate and other health measures, and may help with coronavirus protection.
The smart ring will reportedly only be offered to players, as it may be able to detect positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases prior to any symptoms showing. Oura currently sells their smart rings for $299 each, meaning this could be a major expense if enough players decide to wear it.
Many of the protocols the NBA has put in place for the campus concept sound strange on the surface. However, all of these things have been approved by public health officials, and the league’s plan is by far the safest because of it.
Hopefully, the full three months can come and go without a single positive test. But on the off chance positive tests do occur, it seems the league is well equipped to handle it given all that’s gone into planning this intricate return.
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