Pro Sports to Resume in California, in Stadiums With No Fans: Newsom

May 18, 2020 Updated: May 18, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that professional sports in the Golden State could restart in stadiums as early as June 1, but without fans.

The caveat for a resumption is that “we hold these trend lines,” meaning a continued decrease of infections and hospitalizations, Newsom said at a briefing about the state’s response to COVID-19, that disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the novel coronavirus that emerged from Wuhan and led to a global pandemic.

Over the past two weeks, California has seen a 7.5 percent decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and an 8.7 percent drop in the number of patients needing intensive care, Newsom said.

“Sporting events—pro sports—in that first week of June, without spectators, and modifications, and very prescriptive conditions, also could begin to move forward,” the Democratic governor said, as the San Francisco Bay Area opens for manufacturing, logistics, and curbside retail services.

test in Bolinas
Medical professionals conduct tests for COVID-19 in Bolinas, Calif., on April 20, 2020. (Kate Munsch/Reuters)

Sports fans in the state were last able to catch a pro sporting event on March 11, when two local teams hosted National Hockey League games—one was the Los Angeles Kings and the other the Anaheim Ducks.

Newsom’s remarks came after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he would encourage professional sports teams in the state to play games without fans.

“New York State will help those major sports franchises to do just that. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen, we’re a ready, willing and able partner,” Cuomo said, adding, “I think this is in the best interest of all the people and in the best interest of the state of New York.”

It comes after senior public health officials expressed reservations about whether pro sports would be able to resume at all this year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told The New York Times in an interview late April that spectator sports may need to stay on hold for the rest of the year if the safety of players and fans cannot be assured.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything,” Fauci said. “If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’”

A health staff checks the body temperature of cleaning staff arriving at the Juventus stadium before a soccer match in Turin, Italy, on March 8, 2020. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

He said the key to bringing the nation’s sports industry out of lockdown is widespread COVID-19 testing that delivers quick results, and warned that pushing to reopen too soon would “only get ourselves right back in the same hole we were in a few weeks ago.”

“I would love to be able to have all sports back,” he added. “But as a health official, and a physician, and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.”

Fauci said part of a gradual and measured approach to resuming sports could involve players competing in stadiums, sans fans.

“And then test all the players and make sure they’re negative and keep them in a place where they don’t have contact with anybody on the outside who you don’t know whether they’re positive or negative,” Fauci added.

Sports leagues have been gearing up for a reboot, with ESPN reporting on a draft return-to-play plan put out by Major League Baseball, which includes guidelines of running over 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week and adjusting stadiums to enable social distancing.

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