Speaking during an appearance on CNN, Fauci, who is also director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that football games may not take place unless a number of precautions are taken, such as players being “insulated” from the rest of the community.
“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,” he added.
The NFL has maintained that it will start its regular season as scheduled on Sept. 10, when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. While the offseason program has been conducted remotely, the plan to hold in-person training camps remains in place for late July.
In a call with agents on Monday, NFL Players Association medical director Thom Mayer said players could be tested roughly every three days for COVID-19 and isolated if they test positive.
NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills responded to Fauci’s comments in a statement on June 18, noting that the NBA, WNBA, and MLS “plan to resume play in Orlando later this summer in a bubble format.”
“Dr. Fauci identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisers, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches and other essential personnel,” Sills 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. 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. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed,” the medical officer added.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter Friday to comment, saying: “Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening.”
Multiple players from the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys have recently tested positive for COVID-19, including Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott. However, It is believed the players did not contract the virus in team facilities and both teams followed proper health protocols.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 2.1 million cases of CPP virus have been recorded in the United States, while 118,420 people have died from the disease, which causes COVID-19.