Delivering another round of bad news, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed his doubts that the National Football League will be able to resume in the fall.
Speaking with CNN, Fauci said that the NFL would have to essentially follow the model set by the NBA and the MLS by creating a close-knit community for the athletes and their families to keep COVID-19 from infiltrating.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble – insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day – it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall. If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,” said Fauci, as reported by CBS Sports.
The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills said that the NFL stands ready to make adjustments as needed, though he does believe that the creation of a “bubble” is impractical.
“Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we in the NFL players Association, together with our joint medical advisers, or addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches and other essential personnel,” said Sills in a statement. “We are developing a comprehensive and rapid result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem. This is based on the collective guidance of public health officials, including the White House task force, the CDC, infectious disease experts, and other sports leagues.”
“Make no mistake, this is no easy task. We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees,” he continued. “We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed.”
Statement from NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills in response to Dr. Fauci “bubble” comment this morning. pic.twitter.com/hNKdC8qNdC
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) June 18, 2020
According to ESPN, players in the NFL could be tested for COVID-19 every three days and be immediately quarantined if they test positive. This past May, Dr. Fauci said it was most likely “impossible” that sports would resume as scheduled.
“I say you can’t have a season – it’s impossible,” Fauci said. “There’s too much infection out there. It doesn’t matter what you do. But I would hope that by the time you get to September it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
Fauci has previously expressed doubt about the possibility of schools resuming normal schedules in the fall, which prompted a sharp rebuke from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
“I think that … we’re going to have a national one-size-fits-all approach – nobody’s going to go to school, is kind of ridiculous,” Paul told Fauci. “We really ought to be doing it school district by school district, and the power needs to be dispersed because people make wrong predictions.”
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