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Dr. Mandelbaum for U.S. News & World Report: Returning to Sports During the Pandemic


RETURNING TO THE SPORTS field as the coronavirus pandemic lingers on has become extraordinarily complex, depending on who you are and where you live. Decisions must be data-driven and specific, as change continues rapidly. Before an athlete S.A.F.E.(ly) returns to play, there are five basic criteria that must be met:

Intramural and club sports at Mount St. Mary's include rugby, women's field hockey, flag football and more.
  1. Assessment. When possible, screening and testing of all team members and staff must be a priority. This includes testing for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms. Take folks' temperatures at the field or on the court.
  2. Maintain social distancing. Players and staff should always try to stay 6 feet apart, but the type of sport and environment must be considered when implementing safe and effective social distancing strategies.
  3. Traveling concerns. Be careful with people who are traveling in or out of town, and be aware of new people coming and going.
  4. Face covering. COVID-19 spreads as an aerosol. There is great evidence that wearing a mask makes a difference.
  5. Your hands. Wash them frequently – and no high-fives!

With many youth, collegiate and professional sports teams navigating their way back to some form of training for an eventual return-to-play, safety is crucial. A few months “off” from many types of athletic activities can wreak havoc on the body and lead to injury if players jump back in too quickly or without enough preparation. The good news is that there are plenty of S.A.F.E. ways to get back in the game.

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