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Sports Medicine Expert Optimistic for Healthy NFL Season

Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute Surgeon Explains Safety Protocols and What the NFL and MLB Season Could Look Like

Seclusion, masks and frequent testing are the key to a healthy season for the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, said Neal S. ElAttrache, MD, co-chair of Medical Affairs at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute and chief of Sports Medicine at Cedars-Sinai.

ElAttrache, who also serves as team physician for the Los Angeles Rams, said professional athletes and sports leagues are adopting protocols to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) during the season.

"Players don't have to wear a mask while playing the game," said ElAttrache. "However, they are, in most cases, tested daily, practice social distancing and adhere to face mask protocols."

According to ElAttrache, efforts to make sure the virus doesn't spread through the NFL are managed through a tier system. Players at higher risk are tested daily or every other day and all athletes are tested on a weekly basis.

For fans, the NFL experience will vary depending on where a game is played. Some states are banning large gatherings, and others are limiting the number of fans in the stands. Those who can catch a game live will be required by the league to wear face coverings, no matter what the state or local laws say.

As for those on the field, the NFL recommends face coverings for everyone standing on the sideline, but it is not required.

"There is a lot of work behind the scenes to keep everyone safe and healthy," ElAttrache said, including:

  • Limiting locker room access
  • Minimizing indoor pregame meetings
  • Requiring that each team's representative for the coin toss wear a face covering

While the Rams' first Sunday night game of the season will be played in a fan-free stadium, ElAttrache is optimistic that the season will carry on in a positive and healthy way.

"The guys are following the rules, and it looks like it's working," said ElAttrache.

Looking ahead as Major League Baseball moves into its postseason, ElAttrache, who also serves as the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers, expects a bubble venue format, similar to that of the NBA, for both the American and National leagues to be implemented.

Read more on the Cedar-Sinai Blog: Cedars-Sinai and the LA Rams: Partners in Health

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