ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For training camp starters, the Broncos’ 80 players will dress in two locker rooms.
About two-thirds will set up at least 6 feet apart in the regular locker room at the team’s UCHealth Training Center headquarters. The rest will dress two practice fields away in the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
No wait. That wasn’t the start. Before the players entered the team facilities, they were administered the COVID-19 test in a vacant racquetball court building – what had been the 9NEWS studio at Dove Valley. Players also have to answer a screening questionnaire related to COVID-19.
No wait. That wasn’t the start. Before Broncos training camp commenced in various stages -- rookies, quarterbacks and rehabbing injured veterans started taking physicals Monday and veteran players reported for COVID-19 testing Tuesday -- the place was thoroughly cleaned out. Fumigated. Broncos headquarters was closed to all personnel – including general manager John Elway, head coach Vic Fangio and all other coaches, executives, and staff employees – last Tuesday and Wednesday so the facilities could undergo a deep cleaning, sanitation and disinfection service.
> Above video: Broncos player rep McManus says financial issues remain but believes NFL 'season is going to start on time'
In an attempt to make their facilities as safe as possible for their players, coaches and personnel against the threat of coronavirus, the Broncos are leaving no crevice in the deepest corners unattended.
When Brittany Bowlen was hired by the Broncos as senior vice president of strategic initiatives in early December, skeptics may have thought her title superfluous, an abstract placeholder until she was deemed ready to replace her late father Pat Bowlen as the team’s controlling owner.
Then came the worldwide spread of the deadly coronavirus in mid-March. Brittany Bowlen was assigned to head the team’s COVID-19 task force. She put together a 32-page, 10,000-plus word Infectious Disease Emergency Response report that is both comprehensively detailed yet concise and easy to understand. It covers every nook, cranny and scenario in ensuring the Broncos have a safe training camp environment.
“The Broncos sent their plan to the NFLPA,’’ said kicker and player rep Brandon McManus, “and they said it was one of the better ones.”
The team’s Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plan has been approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and was one of the first among the 32 teams to be accepted by the league and players union.
Among the safeguards and protocols the Broncos are to follow not only during training camp, but throughout the 2020 season:
- The team is to make sure the meeting rooms are cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.
- Players will sit 6 feet apart.
- Full team meetings will be held in the spacious Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
Weight room building
- A limited number of players and coaches from Loren Landow’s strength and conditioning staff can be in the weight facility at one time.
- The facility is to be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.
- A fogging application will be administered each night.
- Players will eat in two shifts.
- All cafeteria personnel must wear masks and gloves at all times.
- There will no longer be a buffet setup. Instead players will place their orders to servers standing behind plexiglass-protected food stations.
- The snack bar station also will have a server to hand over such orders as water, Gatorade, coffee, protein shakes, yogurt and other snacks.
- Each night, a fogging application will be administered to all tables, seats and food-serving surfaces.
- No player will be required to stay at a team hotel. If a player needs to stay at hotel (usually rookies), one will be provided. The hotel will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected on a daily basis per COVID-19 regulations.
- The custodial staff will clean and disinfect high-touch areas three times a day.
- Lockers and shower heads will be spaced at least 6 feet apart. A limited number of players can shower at one time. Every other shower head has been disabled.
- Fogging applications will be administered while the team is on the practice field and again each night.
- Uniforms, including undergarment clothing, will be laundered after each practice and game. Pads and helmets will be disinfected after each practice and game. Mouthguards will be sanitized after each practice and game. Gloves will be washed or sanitized daily.
- Training tables are to be wiped down and disinfected before and after each use.
- Each night a fogging application will be administered to all surfaces.
- Social distancing measures are to be strictly enforced.
- Besides taking the COVID-19 test upon reporting to camp, players and employees will be given an antibody blood test.
- All employees must complete a daily screening questionnaire before gaining access to the team’s facilities.
- All employees are encouraged to take their temperature daily. Employees with temperature readings of 100.4 or above must stay home.
- Per the agreement between the league and players union, once players, coaches and football personnel clear the pre-entry COVID-19 tests, they will be administered the coronavirus test for 14 consecutive days.
Response to COVID-19 infection
- Employees, including players, who test positive but are asymptomatic must quarantine away from team headquarters for 10 days, or 5 days have passed and the individual has received two consecutive negative tests.
- Employees, including players, who test positive and experience symptoms are required to quarantine for at least 10 days and at least 72 hours have passed since the symptoms were last experienced.
Overall safety measures
- Upon entering team headquarters, all players, coaches and football staffers will wear an electronic wrist tag that will beep a social distancing warning and trace contact information.
- All football employees entering the building must use a cellphone sanitizer machine.
- Ball boys or girls must regularly disinfect footballs between plays. All footballs must be disinfected after each practice and game.
- All club employees, including players, will be shown a virtual education session on COVID-19 prevention, germs and symptoms.
- Masks should be worn by all employees, including players, when entering and exiting the facility and when entering and exiting the cafeteria.
- The team’s indoor synthetic practice turf will be sanitized after each use.
- An increased air flow and filtering system has been installed throughout the team’s facility buildings.
There are many other details and safety measures included in the team’s COVID-19 IDER report, including safety protocols that must be followed at the stadium and during travel for games.
While there are no absolute prevention measures to coronavirus without a vaccine, there is little doubt the Broncos have been thorough in keeping their training camp environment as safe as possible.
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