House Call: Athlete Testing for COVID-19

March 25, 2020

What effect may professional athletes receiving asymptomatic tests have on the public perception of the coronavirus?

Many Americans’ first interpretation of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat was linked to news of celebrities testing positive for the virus—before the national rates of infection made headlines, asymptomatic actors and professional athletes did.

The latter group, who were mostly tested in team- and franchise-wide screenings following the cancellation and suspension of professional sports leagues throughout the last month, may face a particular set of issues not fully understood by fans or younger fellow athletes.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Dermot Phelan, MD, director of Sports Cardiology at Atrium Health’s Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute, discussed the impact of asymptomatic professional athletes receiving COVID-19 testing, the effect this may have on public perception of the disease, and what risks infected athletes of all tiers may face.

Namely, Phelan stressed COVID-19’s morbidity—at a time when most are concerned about its mortality.

“We’re certainly concerned there may be significant limitations, long-term, for those people who get COVID-19, and whether this is affecting their lung capacity,” he said.

Phelan also provides advice on mantaining cardiovascular and immunologic health through exercise during the pandemic, and what to do if symptoms present.