Dr. Fauci Talks NFL Testing for All 32 Teams, Personnel Twice a Week by August

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The NFL is planning to continue with its regular season despite the coronavirus pandemic, and Dr. Anthony Fauci believes consistent testing could be possible by August.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Peter King of Football Morning in America there could be enough COVID-19 tests available when the football season begins:

"Right now, it would be overwhelmingly piggish. But by the end of August, we should have in place Antigen testings. ... You could test millions of people, millions of people. But again, we have to make sure that the companies that are doing these tests actually produce them. Which given the country that we have, such a rich country, I would be very surprised if we can't do that."

The NFL would need about 200,000 tests over the course of the season if you account for players, coaches and vital personnel being checked twice a week.

More than 1.3 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S., leading to more than 79,000 deaths as of Monday, according to CNN.com.

Although the start of the NFL regular season is still four months away, Fauci explained the risks involved in continuing to play games:

"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, who is part of the White House's coronavirus task force, said it would be "malpractice in medicine" to put a player who tested positive on the field. This could require independent oversight to ensure a team doesn't hide a positive test from a star player, requiring him to quarantine for two weeks.

Meanwhile, there is also no guarantee the league will be able to continue as scheduled if there is a second peak of COVID-19 in the fall.

"The virus will make the decision for us," Fauci said.