A top infectious diseases expert commended the National Football League (NFL) for adhering to social distancing guidelines by shifting its draft, which typically takes place in a crowded venue, to a remote event.
“I want to commend those involved in these decisions to show that we can have something as important as that in a way that safeguards the life, the safety and the health of the American public by doing the kind of physical separations, doing things virtually, avoiding that kind of contact that puts you at risk,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The 2020 NFL draft was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas but unfolded online. League commissioner Roger Goodell announced the picks while broadcasting from his basement, a sharp contrast to announcements from a stage and a building packed with players, family, friends, and executives.
The outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, “has really transformed what we can do right now and even made unclear what the future looks like, at least the immediate future,” Fauci said.
“We have important things that occur in the middle of this—one of them is the football draft,” he continued.
“I know it’s unusual, I know it disturbs the normal pattern but it really is for your good and the good of the country,” he added. “So the best thing we can do now is hope for the best and hope that’s sooner or later—hopefully sooner—we can get back to some form of normality where we can all enjoy the sport that we love so much.”
The CCP virus causes COVID-19, a disease that has infected hundreds of thousands of Americans, killing tens of thousands. It started in China last year before spreading across the world.
Fauci is a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He is one of two doctors who urged President Donald Trump to recommend harsh measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
He was speaking in a video filmed in the Rose Garden at the White House before the draft started.
Quarterback Joe Burrow was selected first by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Goodell, in his house in Bronxville, New York, called the draft a different experience.
“This is different for us and it’s different for you, because it has to be,” Goodell said, ESPN reported. “We will get through this together. And when we do, we will be here for you.”
Asked how sports will return after being halted amid the pandemic, Fauci said in an appearance on a Snapchat show earlier this month that there should be testing done on a weekly basis. No fans should be present at games, he also said.
“Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled … and have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out,” he said on the show, called “Good Luck America.”
“People say you can’t play without spectators. Well, I think you will probably get enough buy in if from people who are dying to see a baseball game, particularly me. I’m living in Washington. We have the world champion Washington Nationals and I want to see them play again,” Fauci said.