Browns modify facility, players to wear tracing devices as part of COVID-19 prevention

By , 92.3 The Fan
CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Prior to players reporting for training camp, the Browns spent months modifying their training facility in Berea, Ohio to make it safe for players, coaches and staff as the team attempts to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Browns IDER [Infectious Disease Emergency Response] plan was approved by the NFL and NFLPA.

“We definitely have a new normal,” Joe Sheehan, Browns senior vice president of player health and development, said Wednesday during a Zoom videoconference with reporters. “From a screening process on the way in, to extensive testing on a daily basis, to wearing contact tracers when guys walk in the building, and we really made a concerted effort to really mandate everybody wears masks.”

Players are tested on days one, two and four and must be negative for all three of those tests before being allowed to enter the facility for the first time.

COVID-19 testing will continue daily for the first two weeks and players are assigned virtual training sessions on the virus, protocols and safety measures.

Part of the safety plan includes players wearing Kinexon proximity tracking devices from the time they arrive in the building and go through the daily screen until they leave for the day. The agreement on safety protocols between the NFL and NFLPA does not require players to wear the devices at home or during their personal time away from the facility.

“We are ultimately all in this together, and everyone really has to understand that every decision they make both inside the building and outside the building should be done in an attempt to mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus,” Sheehan said. “We all kind of share that collective responsibility to our success, and we are all kind of looking forward to really working together to ensure we do that.”

The devices are being used leaguewide and will assist teams with ensuring players are maintaining proper social distancing and are able to do precise contact tracing should a player test positive.

The facility itself has also been changed dramatically.

A second locker room has been added and the weight room relocated.

“Our main locker room once housed 90 players. Now, it houses 40,” Sheehan said. “Every other locker [is used] with wall-to-ceiling Plexiglas really separating those lockers. We have moved the overflow of our locker room into our existing weight room. We moved our existing weight room into the field house. We have put about 40 lockers in the previously existing weight room and moved our weight room of about 9,000 square feet out into our field house of about 20-yards worth of setup to really improve airflow and allow us to maintain our social distancing in small groups while guys are in the building.” 

Stairwells are one way throughout the facility.

Masks must be worn at all times inside the building unless alone in an office with a closed door.

“We are going to put together every process we can to really mitigate the spread of the virus in our building,” Sheehan said. “We know we can’t eliminate it so we are all going to meet collectively, regularly to discuss and make sure we are putting all the processes in place to really mitigate the spread of that virus.”