MINNEAPOLIS – When Minnesota Vikings players, coaches and other team employees return to TCO Performance Center for training camp this month, individuals will be given a proximity tracking device upon entering the facility to aid with contact tracing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The NFL has mandated that contact tracing procedures, including the wearing of such devices, must be followed by all team personnel while at the team’s facility.
Eric Sugarman, the Vikings’ head athletic trainer and infection control officer, explained to Twin Cities reporters that the devices will monitor the interaction these individuals have with each other inside the facility.
The contact tracing system is specifically for those in the internal tiers and will not include media in Tier 2M or 3OA, Sugarman said.
While individuals in Tier 1 (players, coaches, trainers, physicians, equipment and strength and conditioning staff) and Tier 2 (ownership representatives, general managers, operations, football administration, communications, video and security staff) are allowed to interact, those with a Tier 3 designation (cleaning service providers, in-house media, broadcast personnel, field maintenance, transportation providers) cannot intermix with anyone in Tier 1 and 2.
“Tier 1 and Tier 2 will be with each other,” Sugarman said. “Tier 3 will be the individuals that will not be able to intermix with Tier 1 and Tier 2, and if you come within 6 feet of those people your buzzer will make an alarm sound. If you come within 10 feet, it’s supposed to make a light or vibrate. I haven’t seen the device yet. I haven’t had one on my wrist yet, so I don’t know exactly. But that, in the training, is what was described.”
The goal for the contact tracing system is to track individuals who become ill in the building or test positive for COVID-19. Sugarman said the Vikings will be able to instantly generate a report that will show who a person was in contact with in the last 24 hours.
“The contact tracing program that we have will be very efficient,” Sugarman said. “There’s a company that’s going to oversee it and within seconds be able to generate a report. Let’s say we’re in training camp a month from now and I test and have a positive test. It will be able within minutes to say who I was in contact with for whatever the threshold is, 15 minutes, etc., and I am guessing that any contact tracing program those people will be subject to more testing.”
The NFL has mandated that clubs assign three “COVID protocol coordinators” to manage testing, screening, contact tracing and enforce protocols.