Dr. Fauci Says This Beloved Summer Activity Could Be "In Danger"
Recent coronavirus outbreaks may put an end to this summer pastime.
The coronavirus pandemic has put much of the world in disarray. In March, the United States shut down as the country started experiencing its first rush of COVID-19 cases. And it's still far from over—even if much of the world is trying to go back to normal by reopening businesses and reviving summer activities. But as cases continue to skyrocket, certain summer favorites are more vulnerable to outbreaks than others. In fact, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this one recently returned American pastime may be in danger of adding to the spike in cases: Major League Baseball (MLB).
"I know that Major League Baseball—the players, the owners, the managers—have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work. It's very unfortunate what happened with the Miami [Marlins]," Fauci said in an interview with ABC News on July 28. "But you just have to watch this. This could put it in danger. I don't believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day by day basis."
Fauci's comments were in reference to the 17 positive cases associated with the Miami Marlins in the past five days, ESPN reported. And according to CNN, players accounted for 15 cases, while the other two infected individuals were identified as coaches.
The 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season just returned to action on July 23 after being postponed from the originally planned start date of March 26. Of course, several adjustments had to be made to the sport in order to limit the chance of spreading the virus, including not allowing live spectators, banning players from spitting, and encouraging them to maintain six feet of distance—even during a game.
However, even with these protocols, Fauci and other health experts see the potential for problems. On July 27, Ashish K. Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, tweeted that the MLB needed to "suspend games, do aggressive contract tracing, and see how bad this outbreak is." In the tweet, Jha added, "Without aggressive action and vigilance, there is little hope we'll see more baseball without more outbreaks."
So far, the MLB has yet to announce any plans to stop the season—though they have been forced to postpone two games because of the Marlins' outbreak. According to CBS Sports, there are no clear guidelines regarding what exactly would need to happen to force the season to shutdown. The decision is, more or less, in the hands of one man: Rob Manfred, commissioner of MLB. In a weekly meeting with 30 franchise owners on July 27, Manfred made no suggestion or indication that the season would be paused or canceled. In fact, he said the Marlins could return to the field as early as Wednesday July 29 if they had "acceptable" testing results.
"I don't put this in the nightmare category," Manfred said during an MLB Network interview in reference to the Marlins' outbreak. "It's not a positive thing, but I don't see it as a nightmare. That's why we have the expanded rosters. That's why we have the pool of additional players … I remain optimistic the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to continue to play even through an outbreak like this and complete our season." And for more on the spread of COVID-19, check out The Biggest Coronavirus Hotspot in Every State.