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Getting back to sport in a post covid-19 world

Athelete Covid 918

A year plus pandemic can teach people many things, not the least of which is patience. For most of us, that patience was used as a tool to withstand the boredom of cabin fever and the difficulties of learning how to deal with a house where everyone who was once at school or the office is now trying to do all the same things at home on competing Zoom calls.

For high school, collegiate, and professional athletes, patience took on the form of a much deeper virtue. Being restricted from both competing and practicing their craft, athletes spent the pandemic in a sort of perpetual limbo of starting and stopping as social distancing mandates fluctuated, curves flattened and then flexed again, and the definitions of what was appropriate for social distancing changed frequently. For student athletes, these restrictions have been especially hard, as many have had to forego athletic seasons that either meant a lot to them sentimentally, or meant a great deal to their future, as dreams of being seen by a college or professional athletic recruiter disappeared. For professional athletes, a year of lost conditioning and training meant possibly losing their position on their teams, and sports franchises were left scrambling trying to determine how to stay afloat with no ticket sale revenue coming through the gate.

Even with no crowd workarounds and partial seasons, the Covid pandemic persists in impacting sports programs at every level. One of the biggest obstacles for athletes continues to be the length of quarantine imposed on an athlete when a fellow teammate or they themselves test positive for Covid. Waiting for test results to return and scheduling follow-up tests makes it extremely difficult for sports programs to plan for season schedules, team participation, and back-up plans. Coupled with this is the psychological impact that lack of physical activity and team camaraderie have on younger athletes.

Even now with vaccinations providing a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, sport participation persists in being an area where people are hesitant to fully return to normal. More readily available access to testing and faster test result turnaround times can make all the difference in getting both amateur and professional athletes back in the game and up to speed much quicker.

Rapid Response™ At-Home Tests Are the Key to Faster Return to Sport

With the need for a fast, accurate Covid-19 antigen test evident, Rapid Response™ has developed a test that provides a safe and reliable alternative to waiting days and weeks for results. The Rapid Response™ Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device can detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral nucleoprotein antigens from nasal and nasopharyngeal secretions from individuals suspected of COVD-19 within 6 days of symptom onset and can give those results to clinicians in as fast as 20 minutes. This test provides athletic programs with an invaluable tool in both preventing the rapid spread of Covid-19 amongst their team from an infected athlete and allowing them to return to sport activity much more quickly once they have recovered from the illness.

In providing this testing alternative, sport programs that were once faced with canceling entire seasons due to uncertain exposures, lengthy quarantines, and slow lab result returns can now deal with an isolated cases immediately. By testing all team members prior to a practice or game, they can ensure that any athlete who might be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic can be detected before the athlete encounters their fellow team members and prevent an unintended spread from occurring. Many sport programs at the high school, college, and professional levels have adopted daily testing during their season to guarantee that anyone testing positive is quarantined and that game day can continue.

Rapid Covid-19 Antigen testing also greatly reduces the need for contact tracing, which strains resources and can also present issues with invasion of privacy concerns. Another added benefit of implementing a regular rapid response testing protocol is preventing large groups of athletes from being on quarantine for big chunks of time, which impacts not only game day but also the conditioning and readiness of athletes.

Sport programs that have implemented the daily testing protocol have already witnessed much more successful spring sport seasons than all those false starts from the fall. Sport teams that have adopted the rapid test plan have seen a significant decrease in both team-wide quarantines and team-wide infections.

Time to Return to Sport

While the experts may have tried to warn us that the Covid-19 pandemic was going to be around for a while, few of us anticipated it would be quite this long. As sport has taught us, the best defense is having a strong offense. Adopting a rapid response protocol of regular testing prior to games and practices can significantly reduce the continued spread of the virus and give all athletes the opportunity to return to doing what they do best quickly, and with the confidence in knowing they are doing so healthy, strong, and ready to compete.

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