The NFL’s chief medical officer acknowledged Thursday that developing guidelines and protocols to ensure the playing of the 2020 season is “no easy task.”
Dr. Allen Sills, whom NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appointed to his position in 2017, responded to comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in which he expressed skepticism the NFL can play a full season.
"Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches and other essential personnel," Sills said in a statement. "We are developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem. This is based on the collective guidance of public health officials, including the White House task force, the CDC, infectious disease experts, and other sports leagues.
"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."
The NFL canceled the offseason programs due to concerns about spreading COVID-19 during the global pandemic. NFL training camps are scheduled to open in late-July with 90-man rosters. The 49ers are scheduled to open the preseason on Aug. 15 at the Denver Broncos, with the regular-season opener set for Sept. 13 at the Arizona Cardinals.
Those timelines appear to be in jeopardy, as Fauci expressed his concerns with the virus that has taken the lives of more than 110,000 Americans.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble -- insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day -- it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Dr. Fauci told CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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