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UTEP athletic trainers face challenging times in Covid-19 era

EL PASO, Texas - The job of a college athletic trainer is anything but easy, and now during Covid-19, the job has become increasingly challenging.

UTEP athletic trainers have been tasked with not only treating players dealing with injuries, but also trying to keep them safe from the coronavirus.

What makes the job difficult is the fluidity of the situation and staff having to change protocols depending on recommendations from health officials.

Dawn Hearn is UTEP's Director of Sports Medicine, she's been working with UTEP student athletes for more than 30 years.

"What we say today may change tomorrow because we're always fluid with our protocols," Hearn said. "We're probably on draft 22,23, 24."

Voluntary summer workouts at UTEP began in June.

UTEP's head athletic trainer, Tony Cordova, says at first getting trainers and athletes on the same page was a challenge because the rules for accessing workout facilities was different this season.

Student athletes had to wear facemasks in the weight rooms , and once they were done with their group workouts, they had to leave the facility immediately.

"It took a couple of days, but we're into the groove now," Cordova said. "The biggest hurdle for me is when the phone rings I have to determine if this is something that can be COVID-19 related and if so then we put our protocol into place as far as getting those kids tested and seen. I have to make that determination."

UTEP officials tell ABC-7 that since Covid-19 testing began back on June 10, ten UTEP student athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus.

"You know most of them have been asymptomatic, so it's really hard for the athletes when they're asymptomatic because they're like, "I feel fine," then it's like we understand that, but this is what you got to do," Hearn said. "We always do a cardiac workout and if everything is good with them and they're completely asymptomatic, they are allowed to return after 14 days of quarantine."

And if there is a football season this year, game days will be another obstacle UTEP trainers will have to navigate through.

"If we have somebody sick, or a visiting team has somebody sick we're going to have to facilitate for the visiting team as well for our own team," Hearn said. "They're (opposing team) on the road, and if they're out of state most of the other team physicians are not going to have a texas license."

Texas Sports / UTEP / Video

Adrian Ochoa

Adrian Ochoa is ABC-7’s Sports Director.

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