Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The lengthy plan to restart the NBA season features fitness rings for temperature tracking

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A memo obtained by The Athletic details the NBA’s plans to play out the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, beginning at the end of June. It’s a fairly detailed return to action for the league, including some notable tidbits, like, “It is critical that every player understand that he has the right to choose not to return to play.”

Sports are undoubtedly an important part of a society attempting a return to normality, as a much-needed distraction from the day to day horror show of 2020. But such close-quarter activities ought to come with a fair number of safeguards amid such a highly contagious pandemic.

Amid a long list of guidelines for a season broken down week by week is a surprise inclusion of the Oura smart ring. The letter notes that the wearable “may help with the early detection of the coronavirus and will track temperature, respiratory and heart rate and other measures.” The league says players will have the option of wearing the ring as a kind of safeguard designed to pick up on COVID-19 warning signs.

Researchers have been interested in using the ring as a detection system for several months now. Back in March, UCSF initiated a study using thousands of front-line health workers, tracking temperature, sleep and other health stats.

In this context, the rings only work as a small part of a much larger puzzle (the full plan runs 113 pages). It’s one that invariably needs to include regular temperature screenings and testing — the latter of which is key in avoiding the documented spread among asymptotic carriers. Major League Baseball is similarly attempting to start a long-postponed season, though conflicts between owners and players appear to be at an impasse.

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