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Strict health protocols help keep USL safe

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 10:45 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A season that could only happen if the entire USL took an oath to stay safe against the Coronavirus.

“Look at yourself first and make sure you’re doing all the right things to protect other people from you," Reno 1868 FC President Eric Edelstein said of the thought process behind staying safe from COVID-19. "In turn you’re going to be protecting yourself from other people.”

The mantra has worked so far. Strictly enforced guidelines are the big reason why. Every Friday, those associated with clubs in the USL including players, coaches, and front office members have to take COVID-19 nasal swab tests.

“We know that (other clubs) are behaving in the same way that we are," Edelstein said. "The league has worked very hard to make it really clear to teams that there is no other way to get through the season than for everyone to be on the same page.”

There was a recent scare for Reno 1868 FC. Earlier this week, a member of the Tacoma Defiance - the team who most recently came to town - tested positive for COVID-19. But the virus did not spread.

Home or away, safety measures are in place for all, according to Edelstein.

“Players are going to be in full PPE (wherever they go). They’re going to have gloves distributed to them. They’re going to have hand sanitizer and wipes on them.”

While club expenses have gone up in order to stay safe, Edelstein claimed the moves have been worth it.

“(Added expenses) come down to booking two buses instead of one. It’s booking more hotel rooms," he said. "The catering is handled differently because we’re not eating off buffets.”

When teams do take the field safety comes down to self policing. Each club that participates has an opportunity to grade the other. The USL sees the reports afterward. All the work to prevent the spread has already been done beforehand.

“(The virus) is really hard to catch it when you’re outdoors, on a field, and when you’re playing a sport," said Edelstein. "That’s given us a ton of confidence to go forward and not allow positive tests to derail whole squads for long periods of time.”

The season has yet to be suspended since the league picked up play again in July.

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