Dr. Fauci: Football the 'perfect set up' for spreading coronavirus
There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the return of college football during the fall. Contingency plans are being discussed as the country continues to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As things stand right now, Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that a return to football would be the “perfect set up” to spread the virus. In an interview with Pro Football Talk’s Peter King, Fauci says that if the virus continues to have such a high infection rate, there’s really no way the sport can be played come September.
“Like, right now, if you fast forward, and it is now September. The season starts. I say you can’t have a season—it’s impossible,” Fauci said. “There’s too much infection out there. It doesn’t matter what you do. But I would hope that by the time you get to September it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
Fauci did acknowledge that, assuming there’s enough testing available at the time and infection rates decrease, there’s a chance that players could return to the field and have a season — though he doesn’t anticipate stadiums being at full capacity. He says it could be feasible to have venues half full by that time based on the level of infection, having patrons sit six feet apart.
Because football is such a physical game in which players are in such close quarters on every single play, Fauci said it’s the perfect breeding ground to spread the virus.
“Sweat does not do it,” Fauci said. “This is a respiratory virus, so it’s going to be spread by shedding virus. The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasal pharynx, and it sheds and I wipe my hand against my nose—now it’s on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it’s on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours. Sweat as such won’t transmit it. But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect set up for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field—a middle linebacker, a tackle, whoever it is it—as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person.
“If you really want to be in a situation where you want to be absolutely certain, you’d test all the players before the game. And you say, Those who are infected: Sorry, you’re sidelined. Those who are free: Get in there and play.”
Fauci is like the rest of us when it comes to the return to football: it’s still a little too early to tell. But if the infection rate declines in the coming weeks and months, the sport could resume with limited capacity.
If the situation is similar to what we’re seeing now, it sounds like the season could be in real jeopardy.