As players report to camp this week, the Halas Hall they're returning to will hardly be recognizable. Trailers, tents, and testing bays now cover the expansive lot, a product of the newly-implemented COVID-19 testing protocols that every team employee must pass, on a daily basis, to gain access into the facilities. On Wednesday morning, the team's Head Athletic Trainer Andre Tucker sat down with local media to provide details on exactly how the process was going to work. It is, in a word, extensive.
1. Each day, players will take their temperature twice upon waking up; both readings need to be at or below 100.4 degrees.
2. Once that's cleared, they'll log onto a team-wide App for what Tucker described as a four part "daily screening questionnaire." If those questions are answered correctly, you're allowed to come into Halas Hall. If those questions *aren't* passed, Tucker is notified immediately and the team medical staff takes over the process on a more specific, case-by-case basis.
3. At this point, everyone's assigned what they're calling a "Bears day pass," which is a color-coded I.D. and specific to the individual.
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Getting into Halas
4. Everyone's to park in their 'associated' (assigned?) parking spots.
5. From there, they'll report to the 'bio reference trailer,' which is on Halas property.
6. Inside the bio reference trailer is the check-in station, which, pretty self-explanatory.
7. They'll leave the check-in station and head to one of five different testing bays. These bays have the ability to do both PCR and antibody testing, with tests typically lasting 5-10 minutes. They're then sent off to a lab in Minnesota, with an estimated 24-hour turnaround time.
8. After being tested, players will head to their specific entrance of Halas, which they'll then use their aforementioned I.D. cards to get into. "So you can imagine the front entrance door, there’s people coming in and out," Tucker added. "So any of the high-touch areas, we wanted to make touchless. What does that mean? So as you walk up with your badge, you’re gonna scan your I.D. That then automatically opens the door. The door opens. You don’t have to touch the handle to be able to get in."
9. Immediately to their right will be a selection of PPE – masks, hand-sanitizer, gloves, etc.
10. A few more steps and it's time to take your temperature again, this time with the help of a 'thermal mirroring facial recognition scanner.'
11. Once inside, players will first head to the 'proximity reader' station, which are basically fancy watches that records distance and duration between individual devices. "This gives us real-time information should someone become positive within the building or during NFL business, such as team travel, hotel, bus or plane," Tucker said.
12. At that point, players are free to go about their day inside the facility – though much of it won't be available to them still. The player's lounge was retrofitted to help house all the socially-distanced lockers. Rehab and treatment will now be appointment-based only; they even turned off every other shower. The cafeteria is spaced out, and gone are the buffets. "Everything is individually wrapped and pre-packaged," Tucker added. "Signage throughout the cafeteria and floor markings are used to remind everyone of flow of traffic and how to appropriately space out.”
Weight rooms – every player gets their own rack! – will only hold 15 players at a time, and the capacity in meeting spaces has been cut in half. When the team wants to meet as a group, they'll do so in the Walter Payton center, where tables and chairs will be spread out appropriately. And yet despite all these precautions, Tucker, Nagy, and Pace all stressed the importance of education and smart decision making.
"I think at this point we all have to ask ourselves individually and as a group, ‘What can we do to minimize our risk?’" Tucker said. "And once again, I'm confident at the club level and at the league level that we'll have the best plan in place once we start getting ready for games.”