A Bubble of Knowledge: COVID-19 Task Force and Officials Learn Lesson from the NBA

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By JC Polk – Executive Producer, IVN San Diego

Weekly references to uncertainty and adjustments related to COVID-19 can be very disheartening, but like when we were young, “bubbles” can still provide a positive outlook on the days ahead. Dr. Leroy Sims, vice president and medical director of the National Basketball Association, brought a needed prescription of reassurance, hope and information to an online audience of more than 100 people recently that included San Diego community members, medical officials and sports fans.

Following the NBA championship that concluded a successful year, San Diego’s Multicultural Health Foundation invited Dr. Sims to discuss how he planned for hundreds of players across 22 teams to conclude safely this year. Hosted by the foundation and the San Diego COVID-19 Equity Task Force, Dr. Sims explained how he created a quarantined “bubble” that was safe enough to complete the longest season in NBA history.

Dr. Sims was responsible for leading a team of hospitals, clinics, physicians, first responders and other key partners to ensure optimum medical care in an unique isolation zone that saved the play-off season.

A graduate of Stanford University, Dr. Sims is board-certified in emergency medicine and primary care sports medicine. In his role with the NBA, Dr. Sims is responsible for the organization and provision of medical care at all domestic and international NBA, WNBA and G-League events.

Aside from Dr. Sims, the virtual event also featured Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, who gave  the most up-to-date statistics and underscored the need for all members of the community to remain vigilant in the healthy practices of washing hands and wearing masks.

Wooten was reassured by the “3 Cs” that Dr. Sims shared: Coordination, communication and compliance.

“The (COVID-19 Equity) Task Force and (Multicultural Health) Foundation are those unique key partners that help to outreach to the African American Communities,” Wooten said.

Other noteworthy figures who joined the conversation included Dr. Rodney Hood, the founder of the foundation and co-founder of the task force.  Drs. Robert Gillespie and Dr. Suzanne Afflaloare make up the founding members of this coalition that operates from an equity lens with an emphasis on education and outreach, data, and the 3Ts: testing, tracing, and treatment.

“There are good things happening here in San Diego,” Dr. Sims said. Despite the sometimes bleak news, he reminded the medical officials to treat with compassion and to not to forget the mental health components that exist in communities of color in times of isolation. He urged that simple phone calls to check on neighbors, friends and family have a place in this fight.


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