Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been at the forefront of the global battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is not confident that football players will be able to hit the gridiron this year.
While fans hope for, and athletes prepare for a potential 2020 pro and college football seasons, Fauci has cast his doubt that leagues will be able to safely reboot leagues this fall due to the pandemic.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that players would essentially have to live and train in a “bubble” and would require extensive testing.
“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,” Fauci said.
According to Fauci, a potential second wave of COVID-19 that could coincide with flu season in the fall could make it impossible for players to suit up, even without fans in the stands.
“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,” he said on CNN.
Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, responded to Fauci in a statement to the NFL Network.
“Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches, and other essential personnel,” he said. “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.”
Sills said that the NFL will move forward following federal guidelines laid out by the White House COVID-19 Task Force, the CDC, and other infectious disease experts.
“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,” he added. “We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed.”
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