Fauci says NFL season hopes to rest on virus, test answer

NEW YORK: The Nfl The chances of playing your planned 256 game schedule will depend on containing the coronavirus outbreak and test results, according to COVID-19 pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci .

Fauci, a leader among the White House Coronavirus Task Force advising the US government on the deadly virus, told NBC Sports that very little is certain about the Nfl 's hopes to have a season and a Super Bowl in February at Tampa, Florida, as planned.

The virus will make the decision for us, Fauci said.

It is unpredictable depending on how we respond in the fall ... It will depend entirely on how effectively we as a society respond to the inevitable outbreak that will occur.

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Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, held out hope there might be able to be a limited number of spectators at some Nfl games but also warned he was against staging a season if the virus was as widespread in September as it is now.

Right now, if you go fast, and now it's September, the season begins, I say you can't have a season, it's impossible, Fauci said. There is too much infection out there.

The Nfl 's 2020 season is scheduled to start September 10 with Houston at reigning champion kansas city .

It could be that games are staged in empty stadiums with only players who test negative for the coronavirus.

I think it is feasible that players with negative tests can play in an empty stadium, Fauci said. It's guaranteed? No way.

Fauci anticipates that there will be plenty of testing available in September to allow players to be evaluated before games, remove any positive testing talent from the lineup for two weeks of isolation, and use contact tracking to search for others infected.

There will be viruses and you will know that your players are negative the moment they enter the field. You are not compromising, he said.

Also, if the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then you might see one-third of the stadium or half of the stadium fill up so people can be six feet away.

But Fauci warned that if four players on a 53-man Nfl roster tested positive on the eve of a Sunday game, it might hint that more cases are present among those still testing negative.

Chances are if four of them are positive and have been together, the others that are negative are really positive, Fauci said.

No player with positive results for the virus could play, Fauci said, adding: It would be medical malpractice to put him on the field, absolutely.

That's because the Nfl 's close contact would be an easy environment in which to spread the virus.

If people are in as close contact as soccer players on every play, then that's the perfect setup for broadcast, Fauci said.

As soon as (an infected player) hits the next guy, chances are they're transmitting viruses to that entire person.

Fauci has called a coronavirus return later this year inevitable and that it could set up a bad fall and a bad winter, adding, There's no chance we're going to be virus-free.