Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a glimmer of hope for anxious baseball fans last week when he assured that baseball could return this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the infectious disease expert is providing even more good news by presenting scenarios in which MLB games could be played with some fans in attendance.
Fauci, who is the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed to the YES Network’s Jack Curry that major league games could welcome limited fans into ballparks. In doing so, safety measures would need to be taken such as seating fans at least six feet apart and asking fans to wear facial masks and coverings.
“People who know more about baseball structure have said it but I think it’s reasonable,” Fauci said. “You can either have the situation where you get the group of players and you put them in a few cities. You make sure they’re not infected. You test them so they don’t infect each other. And you have baseball, as much as it’s tough to say, in a spectator-less environment. In an environment in which people can watch it on television.”
“Another version of that,” he continued, “is to limit the amount of people in a stadium and make sure you seat them in a way that they are really quite separated. And maybe even wearing the facial covers than a mask. I know people look at that and say, ‘What are you crazy?’ But to me, it’s better than no baseball at all. That’s the point.”
Baseball insiders have pointed towards the likelihood of games being closed-door this season as a safety precaution. Contingency plans the league is reportedly discussing include stationing teams in either Florida, Arizona or Texas and utilizing both major and minor league parks to field games. Under that scenario, players would likely face pay cuts to account for the massive loss of revenue that comes with a normal season. Fauci expanded on that thought and acknowledged it will all be part of a “new normal” that could last through next fall.
“The revenues aren’t going to be the same as when you have a packed stadium,” he said. “But I think having them play on television is certainly better than nothing.”
League officials are yet to confirm a target date for the launch of the season, which has been delayed since mid-March. However, Fauci has maintained that the virus itself will determine the timeframe for baseball and other major events.