Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Medical Protocols in Place For Safe Return to Play for Big Ten

September 21, 2020

The Huskers will be back on the football field this fall. On Wednesday the Big Ten announced that it voted unanimously to return to play. The games are expected to resume the weekend of Oct. 23 and 24.

According to the release from the conference the decision “was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.”

So what are the various rules and measures being put in place to ensure that games can safely take place?

  • Each institution will designate a Chief Infection Officer (CInO) who will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten Conference. Team test positivity rate and population positivity rate thresholds will be used to determine recommendations for continuing practice and competition.
  • All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.
  • The 14 Big Ten institutions will establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects on COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The registry and associated data will attempt to answer many of the unknowns regarding the cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes.

The Big Ten Conference will use data provided by each Chief Infection Officer (CInO) to make decisions about the continuation of practice and competition, as determined by team positivity rate and population positivity rate, based on a seven-day rolling average.

Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):

  • Green 0-2%
  • Orange 2-5%
  • Red 5% or more

Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):

  • Green 0-3.5%
  • Orange 3.5-7.5%
  • Red 7.5% or more

Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the rates in both categories:

  • Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
  • Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
  • Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.
  • The daily testing will begin by September 30, 2020.

In a joint statement, Nebraska Chancellor Ronnie Green and Athletic Director Bill Moos said “safety protocols established by the conference are the most stringent in the country, and will help protect our student-athletes, staff and coaches. At Nebraska, we have worked hard since last spring to ensure the safety of our Husker family and are confident of the steps we’ve taken. We look forward to working with the Big Ten protocols and will be ready to play on October 24.”

Stay tuned to Hail Varsity for the latest on this developing story.

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Tags: Big Ten

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