Dr. Deverick Anderson, a noted national infectious disease expert and epidemiologist from Infection Control Education for Major Sports, says USA Hockey is providing sound guidance to its community.
“From the documentation put forward by USA Hockey related to risk mitigation strategy, to my conversations with Dr. Stuart and other leaders, the hockey community can feel good about the guidelines they’re receiving,” said Anderson, who has served as a COVID consultant to multiple sports entities, including the NHL.
USA Hockey has maintained throughout the pandemic that the use of a cloth facemask is required at the rink but is a personal choice during practice or competition. “Cloth face coverings or masks are currently mandated by some local or state agencies. In other areas, athletes have the option to wear a mask on the ice if they choose,” said Stuart. “In our recent conversations with Dr. Anderson, he concurs with that approach and shared there is no current evidence documenting virus transmission on the field of play.”
The use of spit or splash guards on helmets also continues to remain a topic of conversation in the hockey world. The Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) recently tested and certified a few products in this category.
“We believe these splash or spit guards could potentially help in the prevention of droplet transmission associated with COVID-19, but there is no scientific evidence to prove their value,” said Stuart. “We now have some products on the market that are confirmed by HECC, which is certainly a positive.”
While navigating COVID-19 and working to keep the game of hockey as safe as possible has created new challenges, Stuart notes in the end, it’s all worth it.
“We’re all thankful for the great game of hockey,” said Stuart, “every one of us – players, parents, coaches, officials, volunteers, rink personnel – need to follow the established guidelines, both in and out of the arena, so we can enjoy the physical, mental and social benefits that our game provides.”