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Fauci: MLB Not Likely to Return With Fans in Stands This Year

Fauci: MLB Not Likely to Return With Fans in Stands This Year article feature image

Alex Wong, Getty Images. Pictured: Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s possible that fans could be in the stands for baseball games later this year, but feels like it’s unlikely in the age of COVID-19.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that there could be a scenario where teams can “limit the amount of people in a stadium and make sure you seat them in a way where they are really quite separated.”

Fauci thinks that idea would be possible in a city “where the level of infection is so low that if someone gets infected that region that health department has the capability of identifying, isolating through contact tracing, so that person doesn’t inadvertently infect someone else.”

Fauci made his comments on the YES Network in interview with reporter Jack Curry.

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While some regions of the country have had fewer cases and deaths than others, “even with that, I cannot see a return this year to what we consider normal.”

That means, he says, “it’s more likely that you are going to have a television baseball than a spectator baseball.”

Fauci said he thinks the idea of putting players in a few cities and making sure they aren’t infected is a more real possibility for Major League Baseball. Playing all games in single city like Phoenix has also been discussed with players only traveling to and from hotels to go to the game.

Even under that circumstance, Fauci stopped short of offering a timeline as to whether he feels doing something like this would make sense.

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“Given the extraordinary efficiency of transmissibility of this virus, I don’t think we can say with any confidence that in the middle of this summer, we can say, ‘OK, July 4th, let’s start the season in a truncated season’ exactly the way we would do it normally,” Fauci told Curry. “Because there’s gonna be a new normal for a while and it’s not gonna be just a few months. It likely will cycle even into next fall and winter.”

If this holds true, college football might be hit the hardest. No sport relies more on ticket sales to drive revenue, so the COVID-19 spread lingering into the fall/winter could drastically delay the start of the season.

The United States has more cases and deaths than any country in the world. As of Tuesday, more than 43,000 people have died with more than 800,000 cases confirmed.

Check our updates on when sports will return.

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