NFL issues facility-reopening protocols for distancing, cleaning

The NFL on Monday sent teams a nine-page guide of protocols that need to be followed in order to safely allow players and staff into team facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines, made public by the league, include a list of cleaning steps and procedures to ensure player and staff safety from the virus, including specific steps for disinfecting practice and workout areas and cleaning equipment and other things like gloves and towels. The protocols also include the need for social distancing, including having locker spaces six feet apart.

While no date has yet been set for when players and staff might return to team facilities, the NFL’s report said that some players might start returning for injury rehabilitation and other procedures sometime later this month. According to the protocols, teams will also be required to certify that they have complied with the guidelines, and the league said it will also conduct “unannounced inspections” to ensure that teams are complying.

MLB proposes 82-game schedule with no fans in stadiums

News reports Monday said that Major League Baseball has formalized a plan for an 82-game season in stadiums without fans, an idea that still must face approval from the players’ association. According to a report in the New York Times the plan includes a designated hitter for both leagues, as well as an expanded playoff system and regional schedules to limit travel.

What’s yet unclear is how the league will regulate the opening of stadiums for games, since even without fans there must be safety procedures in place to protect players, umpires and stadium and broadcast staffs. One player, Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, said he’d be paying close attention to such details:

According to a report on ESPN, MLB will present the plan to the players on Tuesday.

California Governor Newsom says no live-audience sports until ‘therapeutics’ are available

Gavin Newsom, governor of California, tweeted out some information Tuesday on a staged approach California will take toward re-opening the economy following the current coronavirus shutdowns — and it’s not good news for those looking forward to returning to live sports events in the state anytime soon.

In a tweet thread where he said “Our re-opening must be gradual, guided by public health and science,” Newsom outlined four stages of “re-opening,” starting with Stage 1 of “Safety and Preparedness,” which is what the state currently does with stay-at-home measures. In Stage 2 Newsom forsees opening of “lower-risk workplaces,” including retail, manufacturing and some offices. It isn’t until Stage 3 when Newsom foresees opening “higher-risk workplaces,” where his list includes “sports without live audiences.”

Then finally he gets to Stage 4, where the “end of the stay-at-home order” includes live audiences for sports events, but only “once therapeutics have been developed.” According to news reports, Newsom said Phase 3 and Phase 4 are likely “months away.”

According to news reports, the first “Phase 2” openings could be weeks away, Newsom said. It’s not yet apparent whether the Stage 4 phase will require a vaccine, or if “therapeutics” means other kinds of treatments. We will continue to follow this story and provide updates as we get them.

JMA invents emergency ventilation system for Covid-19 treatments

JMA, a company best known in the stadium-wireless industry for its telecommunications gear, has led a joint effort to build an “emergency” ventilation system for Covid-19 patient treatment, using existing medical equipment that is then married to “a unique mechanical apparatus” that can help keep patients breathing until they can be transferred to more robust ventilator.

With headquarters in Liverpool, N.Y., located near Syracuse in upstate New York, JMA said it led a joint effort to develop the design and manufacture of an emergency, mechanical ventilation system. Called PREVAIL NY, for “Pandemic Response Emergency Ventilation Assembled In Liverpool, New York,” the project includes Dr. John Callahan, a physician of internal medicine, and Syracuse University, according to a JMA press release.

Given the prevailing shortage of ventilators for Covid-19 treatment, it seems like even a device that provides temporary help could be incredibly useful. Here is the lead explanatory paragraph from a paper JMA has posted about the system:

The PREVAIL NY device is a robust mechanical system mated to an FDA-approved ventilatory circuit. The PREVAIL NY system is a mechanically-actuated ventilation device based on a conventional bag valve mask (BVM) that is connected in-line to an endotracheal tube (ETT).This device is designed to provide controlled minute ventilation to an intubated patient utilizing standard FDA-approved components mated to the PREVAIL NY mechanicalapparatus. This design is not intended to replace an FDA-approved ventilator; rather, it is intended to act as a rescue device with an indication for providing emergency ventilation.

Until we can talk to JMA further, some more basic info from the press release:

PREVAIL NY is designed to augment the existing ventilator supply in the short term when no other traditional U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved ventilation options are available, providing key basic ventilation functions to relieve doctors of the need to make life-and-death decisions due to ventilator shortages.

According to JMA, the company has submitted an application to the FDA seeking approval for emergency use of the device. The PREVAIL NYC LLC set up by JMA and its partners was formed to facilitate manufacture of the device, the design of which is also available as an open-source project.

“The team is ready to jump-start manufacturing here in New York state, and devices can also be built at our facility in Bologna, Italy, for their local needs,” said John Mezzalingua, CEO and founder of JMA, in the prepared statement.

“This emergency ventilation system takes advantage of existing medical equipment and marries it to a unique mechanical apparatus,” said Dr. Callahan, also in the prepared statement. “I am excited about its familiarity to physicians around the world and that it has many of the same technical components that are common to existing ventilators. I am amazed by its creation in only 10 days.”

Remote worker support at forefront for venue IT during coronavirus shutdowns

With almost all work now being done remotely, it’s no surprise that team and venue IT staffs have virtual operations support at the forefront as the coronavirus shuts down most business operations.

In emails and calls to a small group of venue, team and school IT leaders the task of making sure that staffs could work online in a virtual fashion was the one common response from every person who replied to our questions. According to our short list of respondents that task included getting mobile devices into the hands of those who needed them, and setting up systems like virtual private networks (VPNs) and virtual desktop environments (VDI) so that work could proceed in an orderly, secure fashion.

Since many of the people we asked for comments couldn’t reply publicly, we are going to keep all replies anonymous and surface the information only. The other main question we asked was whether or not the virus shutdowns had either delayed or accelerated any construction or other deployment projects; we got a mix of replies in both directions, as some venues are taking advantage of the shutdowns to get inside arenas that don’t have any events happening now. In addition to some wireless-tech projects that are proceeding apace, we also heard about other repairs to systems like elevators and escalators, which are more easily done when venues are empty.

But we also heard from some venues that shutdowns right now will likely push some projects back, maybe even a year or more. One venue that is largely empty in the summer will have to skip a planned network upgrade because it expects that normally empty dates in the fall and winter will be filled by cancelled events that will need to be rescheduled. Another venue said that it has projects lined up ready to go, but has not yet gotten budget approval to proceed.

Following our editorial from earlier this week, when we encouraged venues to make their spaces available for coronavirus response efforts, it was clear that many venues across the world had already started down that path. One of the quickest uses to surface was using venues’ wide-open parking lots as staging areas for mobile coronavirus testing; Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and Washington D.C.’s FedEx Field were among those with testing systems put in parking lots.

Some venues have already been tabbed as places for temporary hospitals, with deployments at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and New York’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center already underway. Other venues, including Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland and State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., have hosted blood drives.

Using venues to support coronavirus response efforts is a worldwide trend, with former Olympic venues in London being proposed as support sites, as well as former World Cup venues in Brazil. Perth Stadium in Australia is also being used, as a public safety command center, like Chicago’s United Center, which is being used as a logistics hub.

Many other venues are stepping forward to offer free public Wi-Fi access in parking lots so that people who don’t have internet access at home can safely drive up and connect. Ball State University and the Jackson Hole Fairgrounds are just two of many venues doing this.

Venues are also offering their extensive kitchen and food-storage capabilities for the response effort. The Green Bay Packers have been preparing and delivering meals for schools and health-care workers, while the Pepsi Center in Denver offered cooler space to store food. Many other venues have contributed existing stores of food to charitable organizations and support efforts, since those items won’t be used at any of the many cancelled events.

Chicago’s United Center to serve as Covid-19 logistics hub

It seems like many venues are already stepping up to assist with the public battle against the coronavirus, something we wondered about in an editorial on Monday. In Chicago, the United Center — home of the NHL’s Blackhawks and NBA’s Bulls — will act as a logistics hub for first responders and for food distribution.

According to a post on the United Center site, “Our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting front line food distribution, first responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.”

Minutes after we posted this, saw another item: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland will be hosting a blood drive on Friday.

Any other venues doing anything similar? Let us know if you know and we will add to the list.