Dr. Anthony Fauci

Does NFL need a bubble? Dr. Fauci thought so, and MLB is proving him right

Does NFL need a bubble? Dr. Fauci thought so, and MLB is proving him right

A “bubble” just might be the only way for football to successfully return in the United States. That’s not just me, someone who desperately wants there to be a football season, saying it. That’s Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

“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,” Fauci told CNN in June. 

Since then, the NFL and NFLPA hammered out a plan for training camp to start on time that does not involve players being in a “bubble,” like the ones created by the NBA, NHL and MLS. Major League Baseball went a different route, testing players every other day and urging personal responsibility but having teams travel from city to city as they otherwise normally would.

It’s taken all of four days for baseball’s plan to show itself as massively flawed. 

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

The Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak should raise serious questions about the NFL’s ability to play a bubble-less season in 2020. If it can happen in a baseball clubhouse, with a roster of 30, it can happen in an NFL locker room with a training camp roster of 80 and a regular season roster of 53 (plus 16 practice squad players). 

Just four days – four days! – into baseball’s season, games are already being canceled. Players are contracting the novel coronavirus at a rate not seen inside those bubbles. Just hours before the first pitch of the season last week, Washington Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19. 

We, as a country, have not contained COVID-19, as European nations that’ve re-started (and finished) their top soccer leagues have. Only one player is known to have missed a game in the German Bundesliga due to the novel coronavirus; that player self-isolated after his daughter tested positive, though he wound up testing negative. The English Premier League concluded its season over the weekend with 20 total positive tests from players and staff.

The United States is not ready for bubble-less sports to return. So why is the NFL trying? 

Creating a bubble for football would be incredibly difficult. You’re talking about over 100 players, coaches and support staff from each team needing to be isolated from everyone but each other for five or six months. It’s not realistic to have one central location with 3,500 people. But it’s also not realistic to expect everything will be fine with the NFL and NFLPA’s plan for practicing and playing in a pandemic. 

So the NFL needs to pay attention to the burgeoning calamity in baseball. The Cubs, today, are traveling to a COVID-19 hotspot in Cincinnati – which, amid all the Marlins fervor, also had three players (Matt Davidson, Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel) fall ill over the weekend. Monday’s canceled Marlins-Orioles and Yankees-Phillies games, unfortunately, likely will not be the last. 

The NFL has a month and a half before its regular season starts. It needs to learn, and learn quickly, from whatever mistakes baseball has made, and still is making. But maybe the sport should’ve given more credence to what Dr. Fauci said in June. 

Because until the United States actually gets COVID-19 under control, the only way to play team sports safely just might be in a bubble. 

 

SUBSCRIBE TO THE UNDER CENTER PODCAST FOR FREE.

Dr. Fauci: Coronavirus vaccine could be available late this year, early 2021

fauci_thumb.jpg
USA Today

Dr. Fauci: Coronavirus vaccine could be available late this year, early 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s “cautiously optimistic” a COVID-19 vaccine will be available for the American public towards the end of this year, or early in 2021.

Dr. Fauci made the comments while testifying in front of Congress on Tuesday morning.

"It is generally vaccines that put the nail in the coffin (for the virus)," Fauci said when discussing the importance of vaccine trials that are already underway.

One possible vaccine is heading into phase three trials in July.

“This is one that has already shown, in preliminary studies, some very favorable response in the animal models that were developed,” Fauci said about that particular vaccine.

Other vaccines are set to move to phase three trials in the coming months.

According to the CDC, in phase three trials the vaccine will be given to thousands of people to test the vaccine’s efficacy and safety.

Many vaccines undergo continued studies to track long-term safety after they are approved and licensed. If any of these vaccines show favorable results in phase three trials it could be an important step for sports-- and our everyday way of life-- returning to normalcy.

RELATED: MLB to implement shortened 2020 baseball season

Dr. Anthony Fauci casts doubt on 2020 NFL season without more precautions

Dr. Anthony Fauci casts doubt on 2020 NFL season without more precautions

The 2020 NFL season is still scheduled to be played in home markets across the country, but one of the nation's foremost experts on the coronavirus isn't so sure. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, arguably the most visible figure in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, spoke with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta about what the fall sports schedule may look like, and it's not good: 

“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,” Fauci said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

Fauci's quotes are just the latest reminder that we're still very much in the middle of a historically devastating pandemic, fighting a virus without a vaccine. With most epidemiologists in agreement about the certainty of a second wave this fall, it's feasible that the NFL might not be able to play in every home market. Teams like the Texans and Cowboys have already seen players infected, and with rising infection rates in several other states, they won't be the only ones.