SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The PGA TOUR is extending its partnership with Sanford Health to conduct COVID-19 testing at tournaments across the country.
Sanford Health and the PGA TOUR originally joined forces last June in the fight against COVID-19.
“A lot of work, but very rewarding for our team and great for the PGA TOUR to continue to put the players out and put a great product out on the course week in and week out,” Sanford Health Executive Vice President Micah Aberson said.
Lab technicians are traveling the U.S. in three mobile units, testing players, caddies, and essential personnel at PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions tournaments.
“Our lab technicians have been crisscrossing the country. They’ve covered 75,000-plus miles, we’ve consumed 15,000 gallons of fuel along the way, but it’s just been great,” Aberson said.
Technicians have conducted more than 18 thousand tests over the past eight months.
“The players have been great about it and they want to make sure that they’re keeping their fellow competitors safe, they’re keeping the caddies safe, that sort of thing. If they do test positive, they’re bummed out by it but they understand,” Aberson said.
“With upwards of 700 individuals expected to be tested on-site each week, Sanford Health is playing a vital role in keeping players on the course,” KELOLAND’s Travis Fossing said.
“We learn more and more every single week as we go, get more efficient with it and it’s all to the benefit of the players and the tour and of our team,” Aberson said.
Sanford’s original contract with the PGA TOUR expired at the end of 2020, but testing never stopped, and will continue through at least June.
“We’re living in a fluid environment and I think that’s the case for everybody right now and it’s the case with the PGA TOUR and what they intend to do by way of testing the players as we go forward,” Aberson said. “When we get to June of this year we’ll make a decision on what’s the protocol going to look like and how can we best support,” Aberson added.
Each mobile testing unit has three or four technicians. They arrive the Saturday before a tournament to begin processing tests. This week’s tournaments are in Florida and California.