Safety measures for student-athletes in town for tournament are extensive

NCAA reports no positive tests among teams that are here.
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Posted at 9:38 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 16:16:03-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA, the Marion County Public Health Department and other local partners are ensuring that athletes are safe and healthy during the tournament.

Student-athletes are staying at the Westin, Hyatt, J.W. Marriott and the Marriott Downtown while in Indiana for the tournament. Each team will get its own floor to help with physical distancing. The teams and those involved in the tournament will undergo COVID-19 testing while in town.

"Teams are taking a PCR test upon arrival and then quarantining in their rooms until they take a second test 12 hours later,” Dan Gavitt, senior vice president for basketball for NCAA, said.

After the second test, team members will be cleared and can head to practice areas to start preparing for their games.

The NCAA has secured exhibit hall and meeting hall space for the teams to use as controlled environments outside of their hotel rooms. Victory Field is also open to student-athletes as a venue where they can get outside and still be isolated from the general public.

"It is expected that coaches and student-athletes and everyone involved in the travel party does stay inside the controlled environment at all times unless being escorted to one of those outside areas,” Gavitt said.

While here, teams will also be given a SafeTag, a wearable device created by the company Kinexon.

“The SafeTag is about the size of domino, really small lightweight wearable device that is able to detect the distance between users. It logs the contact distance and duration of anybody that is wearing the SafeTag,” said Matt Bontorin, spokesperson for Kinexon.

The information is digitized to help with contact tracing if needed.

“Anytime there is a positive case, what the safe tag does is it logs that information into a very secure software system that then allows medical officials, local health departments, designated team officials to go back into that system and see who has been in contact with who and for how long,” Bontorin said.

The devices do not have GPS and are not tracking players' movements or locations.

“All we want to do is know the distance and duration between users, not necessarily where they are there’s no localization technology involved in this,” Bontorin said.

Team operations managers will collect the devices from the student-athletes at the end of each day to charge them. This is also when the data will sync in case it needs to be accessed by the Marion County Public Health Department should contact tracing be necessary.

IU Health is providing testing for athletes. Gavitt said as of Monday 2,100 collections have been made and there have been no positive test results.