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Dr. Anthony Fauci on how sports can return: Regular testing, no fans

Michael Palmer, a NASCAR fan and emergency room nurse at a Detroit-area hospital, joins "Lunch Talk Live" with Mike Tirico to share his experiences during the pandemic and getg surprised by Jimmie Johnson in the process.

Thirty-five days ago, as the growing threat of COVID-19 became apparent, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

Almost instantly the NBA suspended its season.

That began the rapid shutting down of the entire sporting calendar. NASCAR became one of the final sporting bodies to do so two days later, as it postponed its next two race weekends, followed three days later with the postponement of all races through May 3 in compliance with CDC guidelines.

Now after more than a month of many states practicing social distancing, there’s a growing sentiment for the return of live sporting events in some form.

What would it take for that to happen?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the faces of the United States’ response to the pandemic, laid out his thoughts on that.

In an interview with Snapchat’s Peter Hamby released Wednesday, Fauci was asked about the prospect of sports like baseball and pro and college football returning.

“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested like every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.”

Among those who are encouraging fan-free sporting events is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who expressed a desire for his state to be able told NASCAR and golfing events without crowds.

“Like if NASCAR does a race and can televise it without having large crowds, I think that’s a good thing,” DeSantis said. “I think people have been starved for content. We haven’t had a lot of new content since the middle of March.”

DeSantis’ comment came the same day President Donald Trump said in a press conference he was “tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.”

Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said “mass gatherings” are “not in the cards” for his state until the public has developed a herd immunity and a vaccine is made available. Newsom added mass gatherings “are unlikely” as late as August.

NASCAR is not scheduled to hold any events until May 9 at Martinsville Speedway. But that is in doubt with Virginia’s stay-at-home order in place until June 10.

In North Carolina, where the majority of NASCAR teams are based, its stay-at-home order is scheduled to end on April 29.