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Volume 26 No. 227
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Dr. Fauci's Comments On NFL Viability In '20 Minimize Optimism

Dr. Anthony Fauci in one fell swoop "crushed a lot of optimism about the NFL being able to hit the the field this fall," as he "intimated that the league's current plans to play through the COVID-19 pandemic are inadequate, and that the only way to play would be in the hermetically sealed bubble a la the NBA's plans for Disney World," according to Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. Fauci's comments "seemed to catch the NFL off-guard." It is "not as though the league is going at this willy-nilly." The social distancing protocols that will be instituted this fall were "developed not only by the medical directors of both the NFL and the NFL Players Association, but also in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and the Centers for Disease Control." The NFL's response to Fauci's comments "had a 'thanks, doctor, but we're on it' feel to it." NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said, "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" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/19). 

NOT LIKE THE OTHERS: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted the NFL is "far larger than most sports, with 32 teams that each have up to 90 players during training camp, plus dozens of coaches, trainers and doctors, as well as front office staff." Unlike basketball, baseball and soccer, football "requires more rest for players between games, and thus more time in isolation if a bubble was created." The NFL and NFLPA are "still trying to establish testing guidelines and other measures that would lower the risk that players get infected with the coronavirus." Training camps are "scheduled to start in late July, yet players and their agents have heard few concrete measures from the union." The NFL has said that it "remains committed to keeping to its schedule of opening the regular season on Sept. 10, with fans in attendance" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/18).

PLENTY OF QUESTIONS EXIST: Saints S Malcolm Jenkins said he is "very skeptical" of playing the '20 season outside of a bubble "based on what we’re seeing now with this uptick of cases.” Jenkins asked if the players and staff “can’t be completely isolated and people are still able to go to and from, then how do we actually create a safe workplace?" Jenkins: "That’s the No. 1 thing that the league, as an employer, should be thinking about.” He added, “We don’t even know if we'll have the capability to do the amount of testing that will be required to keep us safe so we can contact trace and isolate guys and … if we do get that amount of testing, is it going to be ethical enough if we do have more upticks in the fall, are we taking tests away from the community as a non-essential businesses?” (“CNN Tonight,” CNN, 6/18).