NWHL partners with Yale on COVID-19 Testing

The NWHL will be the first women’s professional sports league to implement SalivaDirect testing

The National Women’s Hockey League is partnering with Yale for COVID-19 Testing in Lake Placid. The testing conducted on players and staff members at Lake Placid will be the PCR viral RNA testing method – known as SalivaDirect. SalivaDirect was developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).

“YPL was the first to offer SalivaDirect to the public and the National Women’s Hockey League is the first women’s professional sports league to implement SalivaDirect™ testing,” said Stephanie Weirsman, physician liaison for YPL.

The testing for players and staff will go beyond the nasal samples that many have become all too familiar with during the pandemic. According to a tweet from Mallory Souliotis of the Boston Pride, Yale’s testing is straightforward enough that there’s no need for a nurse or a doctor to administer the tests — however, there’s no mention of who will be administering the tests in Lake Placid in the league’s release. In addition to playing defense for the Pride, Souliotis is a biomedical engineer. It’s worth noting that Souliotis attended Yale and played her college hockey for the Bulldogs.

From the league’s release:

Additionally, NWHL and YPL are working jointly on a quality improvement initiative which involves obtaining paired saliva and nasal samples for NWHL players and staff for dual testing purposes. This dual testing is beneficial both to the NWHL players and staff who receive two concurrent results, as well as to the clinical lab which can provide additional data for the COVID-19 diagnostic molecular testing program.

Today’s announcement is noteworthy in and of itself but also suggests that the NWHL’s plan for a bubble in Lake Placid is on schedule. With the New Year right around the corner, it’s looking more and more likely that we will indeed have NWHL hockey in late January.

“Our top priority for this season in Lake Placid has been protecting the health and safety of the players and everyone involved, and testing has been a major focus for us,” said NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “By partnering with YPL, the NWHL not only has the direction of pioneering doctors and scientists, but also the support of an organization that believes in the power of women’s sports.”