Bubble approach working as NHL has gone weeks without a positive test

Bubble approach working as NHL has gone weeks without a positive test
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The NFL saw only one player — Titans linebacker Josh Smith — placed on reserve/COVID-19 on Monday. In 16 days, 106 players have gone on the list, with 75 activated off it.

The Dolphins (14), Jaguars (12) and Lions (eight) have had the most reserve/COVID-19 cases, Howard Balzer of SI.com reports.

Twenty-one NFL players who have gone on the list have remained on it for a total of 255 days, an average of 12.1 days, according to Balzer.

The NFL, like Major League Baseball, does not have a bubble. The will try to mitigate the virus while players are going about their lives outside the team facility.

The NHL, like the NBA, has a bubble, and it has worked spectacularly. Hockey, entering its third week in the bubble, has not seen a positive COVID-19 test in weeks, ESPN reports.

Of course, it probably helps that the teams are in Canada, with hub zones in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta.

The first week of testing in Phase 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol produced zero positive tests out of 7,703, according to ESPN. That followed Phase 3 — when teams returned to training camps at their home base — which produced two positive results among 6,874 total tests administered.

“I really think the bubble approach is the best path forward, at least given this point in time during the global pandemic,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert based in Toronto who consulted for the NHLPA, told ESPN. “Of course we know it’s not going to be perfect. I think we’re all talking about risk mitigation, not risk elimination. With these careful protocols, careful testing, with symptom checks, with good communication, I think we’re starting to see the bubble approach — not only in hockey, but also in basketball and soccer — really be the best approach while these case numbers are this high, globally.”

It’s too late for the NFL to go to a bubble, so it will be up to players to do the right things away from team facilities.

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