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Old Tue Aug 18, 2020, 08:11pm
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Metro Atlanta
Posts: 861
Covid Protocol

Something happened in a high school game today that causes me to wonder about the umpire’s role in this pandemic. (yes GA plays in the fall)

When this thing first came out, I was discussing it with an acquaintance of mine who is a doctor.
At that time, hospitals were getting stressed because people who sneezed thought they had “The Rona”.
His comment was, don’t go to the hospital unless you are really struggling to breathe.
He mimicked what it would look like. Not a pretty picture.

R1 on 3B. 3B coach requests time urgently. Time granted.
Quickly he rushes to R1 to assist her.
She is struggling to breathe, I mean REALLY STRUGGLING almost violently.

This player looked like what that doctor showed me.

When the inning ended, I asked the coach if the player had a pre-existing condition.
He said, no.
Then a moment later, he said the mom said the kid has asthma, but that it is “rare”.
Almost immediately, I could swear I heard the kid deny that she was asthmatic.

I’m thinking WTF is going on here?

So, the question is: What is/are the umpire’s role/responsibilities if he/she suspects a participant to have the virus?

Clearly we are not medical professionals, but we have a number of protocols, i.e. concussion, with liability attached.
We disallow the player to continue until they have been cleared by a medical professional.
Of course, that is already in the written rules.

So, I know there is no guidance on this currently, but the question is, “Should there be”?

The conundrum is: how are umpires supposed to know when/if someone is sick?
And are we going to over-react to every little cough and sneeze?
Or should we just ignore signs and symptoms that might be actually something very serious? Including personal risk.

Somehow, I think we have a role here.

I think this is a problem that needs to be floated to the top dogs at all of the governing bodies of softball, and athletics in general.
But maybe this message board is a good place to start.

Thoughts comments and solutions are most welcomed.

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old Wed Aug 19, 2020, 08:03am
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 752
The Ohio General Assembly has already told me I have to remove athletes for a suspected concussion, even though I have zero medical knowledge on such things. With suggestions like these, soon only doctors will be able to officiate.
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Old Wed Sep 09, 2020, 01:32pm
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Lowcountry, SC
Posts: 2,377
COVID symptoms are so hard to discern from other ailments (the common cold, allergies, stomach bug, etc.), I really don't see anyone anywhere pushing for umpires to look for any evidence of infection amongst players or coaches.

Seems to me this would really be a school responsibility. Have they put some kind of protocol in place before a team goes out to the field? Do they check the players' and coaches' temperatures? Do they ask them if someone in their family is quarantining?

Again, no way should we look at our role vis-a-vis concussions and expand it to COVID. But that's my humble opinion.
"Let's face it. Umpiring is not an easy or happy way to make a living. In the abuse they suffer, and the pay they get for it, you see an imbalance that can only be explained by their need to stay close to a game they can't resist." -- Bob Uecker
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Old Thu Sep 10, 2020, 03:38pm
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Location: The Land Of The Free and The Home Of The Brave (MD/DE)
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Any chance of INDIVIDUAL responsibility ?
Officiating takes more than OJT.
It's not our jobs to invent rulings to fit our personal idea of what should and should not be.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old Sat Sep 12, 2020, 10:02am
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Fremont, NH
Posts: 1,318
Originally Posted by CecilOne View Post
Any chance of INDIVIDUAL responsibility ?
Folks all have different opinions about individual responsibility (or the responsibility of their children).

With many anti-mask and anti-vax folks, it really wouldn't work.

I don't think umpires should be put in the position of having to make a call on a player who is: coughing, sneezing, sniffling, (insert any other common cold symptom here).
USA & NFHS Softball
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Old Mon Sep 14, 2020, 03:17pm
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Woodstock, GA; Atlanta area
Posts: 2,820
Some of you may remember that the OP, tcannizzo, works for me locally at rec, travel, high school and tournaments. He asked me (as his supervisor/boss at that moment) the same question at the same time, and told me he intended to also post here to see if others felt differently than my answer.

So here's what I told him:

Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve
My answer, paraphrasing the GHSA position.

We aren't medical professionals, we do not remove players from games unless they have been unconscious. No matter what symptoms we observe that WE think may be COVID-related, we make sure the person that IS responsible and liable (the head coach representing the school "in loco parentis") is aware of our concerns. If completely clear and necessary, make the official scorekeeper note it in the book that you registered your concern, and file a game report for me to pass to GHSA, if ignored.

In this case, with the parent also in the loop, stay out of it. Don't ask the coach anything that might add to your personal risk; your question pretty much violated that child's rights under HIPAA. Tell him on the record you are concerned, and then keep YOUR social distance from that player.

The coach could have easily misstated, the parent may have actually said any other COPD ailment, or even a severe allergy; he said asthma, the child denies that but doesn't repeat what she does have. Under HIPAA, no matter what you overheard, none of your (or our) business.

The only part different when it isn't GHSA is they have no "in loco parentis" legal status. But, based on standard language in USA and USSSA softball legal releases, the coaches accept a responsibility to act in the child's best interest. Make it known you are concerned, then let it be on them.
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