NHL shares enhanced COVID-19 protocols, including rapid testing

NHL shares enhanced COVID protocols, including rapid testing
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The NHL rolled out enhanced COVID protocols on Thursday, most notably adding rapid-testing (aka “point of care” tests) for all U.S.-based teams. The NHL noted that these enhanced COVID protocols will be in place until at least Feb. 28.

For the full enhanced NHL protocol, check here and here. This post aims to give you the gist.

NHL rolls out enhanced COVID protocols, including rapid testing

  • Rapid-testing (POC or point of care testing) on game days is the most important part of the NHL’s enhanced COVID protocols.

The NHL notes that, in addition to all US-based teams having those rapid tests for COVID-19, the league is working with the seven Canadian teams for similar testing. Perhaps there were some elements of that in a delayed Oilers – Canadiens game that ended up eventually taking place on Thursday?

While the NHL notes that those POC tests aren’t as comprehensive as PCR testing, the league is also administering those tests on a daily basis.

Here are some other protocols, which have been shortened for the sake of simplicity. (You can get into the nitty gritty details in that NHL release.)

  • The NHL aims for more formalized guidelines about limiting how much teams do outside of games and practices.

Work/Home Quarantine: To reduce the introduction of infection into the team environment, effective immediately, all Players, Coaches, Training Staff, Equipment Staff and other members of each Club’s Travelling Party will be required to remain at home and not leave their place of residence except to attend practices and games, to exercise outdoors on an individual basis, to perform essential activities (e.g., go to the doctor), or to deal with family or other emergencies and other extraordinary circumstances.

Along similar lines, the NHL emphasized that players and other members of teams wear masks as much as possible.

  • Going forward, the NHL requires that all team meetings must happen virtually. There’s also some granular stuff about configuring locker rooms so that players “with presumptive immunity can serve as a ‘buffer'” for those without it.
  • Speaking of granular, the league also went into significant detail about ventilation, contact tracing and other elements.

Overall, the biggest changes boil down to the rapid testing, and pushing hard to limit certain interactions. We’ll see if rolling out these enhanced NHL COVID protocols will make a difference, as the league hasn’t been immune to the disruptions other sports have already gone through.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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