The San Francisco 49ers NFL American football team has formed a medical advisory committee of local health experts as it explores ways to safely welcome fans back to Levi’s Stadium later in the year.

The committee will include Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); and Lloyd Dean, chief executive of CommonSpirit Health, the parent company of Dignity Health.

The pair will be joined on the committee by Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine and associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at UCSF & San Francisco General Hospital; and Dr. Lillian Brown, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at UCSF & San Francisco General Hospital.

The committee will explore the best practices and health considerations that will underpin an eventual safe reopening of Levi’s Stadium. The committee’s advice will guide how the 49ers determine safety protocols and leverage new technologies to support effective stadium design for fans, employees and the local community.

The committee will begin work this month by looking into the public health considerations that will support the return of fans to the stadium.

49ers president Al Guido said: “Opening Levi’s Stadium as a mass vaccination site was just the first step in doing our part to protect our community. As vaccinations continue and preparations begin for the return of fans at Levi’s Stadium, we want to set the standard for safety, and this committee of esteemed medical experts will help us to do just that.

“With the help of this committee, we hope to make informed, equitable, and transparent choices to protect not just our fans but our employees and the local community as well. The members of this committee have spent the past 12 months on the frontlines of the COVID response and we look forward to leveraging the depth of their experience.”

While the committee will initially support the 49ers on the return of fans and employees, the team is committed to sharing the expert advice with other organisations in the Bay Area and beyond.

Dr. Brown added: “The more groups that operate under public health best practices, the better. I think the 49ers’ approach to be as open as possible with other teams interested in a safe return to their stadiums is great. Our aim is to produce important insights and determine protocols that can be used as standards for stadiums across the country.”

In other news, State Farm Arena, home of NBA basketball team the Atlanta Hawks, has implemented drone technology as part of its ongoing cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

The arena is working with Lucid Drone Technologies and its D1 Disinfecting Drone to help sanitise the 17,500-seat venue between events, in what marks a first for the NBA.

The drone, which weighs around 27 pounds, can hold a 10-litre tank of cleaning solution and is equipped with multiple sets of batteries and a custom charger to allow for continuous cleaning cycles. The drone can cover 150,000 square feet in an hour at full charge.

State Farm Arena is currently open at 8% capacity for Hawks home games. The venue will also host the NBA All-Star game this Sunday.

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