Playing the upcoming NFL season could pose a number of challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic that is slowing down, but nowhere near gone.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told Peter King of NBC Sports over the weekend that it is possible for teams to play in empty stadiums this fall as well as possible for some fans to be in the stands, but there will be numerous hurdles the NFL would need to clear in order to hold contests.
“This is a respiratory virus, so it’s going to be spread by shedding virus,” Fauci explained.
“The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasal pharynx, and it sheds and I wipe my hand against my nose — now it’s on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it’s on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours.”
“Sweat as such won’t transmit it. But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect set up for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field — a middle linebacker, a tackle, whoever it is it — as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person.”
“If you really want to be in a situation where you want to be absolutely certain, you’d test all the players before the game. And you say, ‘Those who are infected: sorry, you’re sidelined. Those who are free: get in there and play.’”
Fauci then stated the league would have to have intense testing plans going forward.
“If I test today, and I’m negative, you don’t know if I got exposed tomorrow … there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get exposed and be positive the next day.”
He added, “To be 100% sure, you’ve got to test every day. But, that’s not practical and that’s never going to happen. But, you can diminish dramatically by testing everybody Saturday night, Sunday morning, and say, ‘okay, only negative players play.'”
The NFL is scheduled to begin in September but anything can change those plans as more and more states began to open back up.