Following Saints into a "Bubble" Not for Bears
Impressed with the success of the NBA at putting players within a "bubble" to protect against COVID-19 spread, the New Orleans Saints have decided to do the same.
It doesn't seem like a bad idea if the team wants to foot the expense, and certainly any NFL team could.
The Saints had no positive tests in the first week of COVID-19 testing, but coach Sean Payton told Peter King the team rented several floors at the Loews New Orleans Hotel to sequester players.
The Saints didn't refer to it as a bubble but Payton told King "It's a sequester."
The reason for the move seems legitimate but the Bears would really need to see failure with the approach they've taken before they think about something of this type.
Certainly the hotel situation would be simple enough. The hotel business is hurting and renting several floors would elate anyone in ownership or management. There are at least 10 hotels within five to 10 minutes of Halas Hall, which is located near Interstate 94 in far west Lake Forest.
The Bears have opted for a different approach and it is based on their ability to keep players and family informed, educated and compliant with what they're doing. They also benefit from having 300,000 square feet at Halas Hall, the Walter Payton Center and four-plus practice fields at their campus site. Social distancing is easy in this type of situation, and they've allowed for distances like this in the locker room, eating areas and elsewhere throughout the facility.
They've set up check points for temperature testing before getting into the building and anyone going to the building must pass through a gauntlet of temperature testing. They're also using proximity testing devices to check who players have been exposed to during camp.
On Tuesday, Aug. 4 they had no players on the Reserve/COVID-19 List although they had two players opt out.
The real test of this approach the Bears have taken, and the test for the Saints is not in training camp.
It's easier to both teams to maintain their vigilance in these two situations.
The real danger occurs when the regular season begins and the teams are traveling to other states for games.
Baseball ran into its real problems once teams started traveling and facing situations where they lacked complete control like the Bears feel they have at Halas Hall.
So whether the Bears' approach or the Saints' approach is better is largely immaterial.
When the games count on the record is when everyone will have a better idea of how methods to contain the situation work.
Once the regular Saints start playing games they won't be in that hotel bubble and will be at home, so they'll need then to be adept at practices like the Bears are using anyway.