Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is currently part of a group advising President Donald Trump amid the coronavirus pandemic, said during an interview Wednesday that he believes sports can return in 2020 without fans.
"There's a way of doing that" Fauci told Peter Hamby on Good Luck America. "Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them 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.
"People say, 'you can't play without spectators.' Well, I think you probably can get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game -- particularly me, living in Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again."
What Fauci, who has served under six United States presidents, is describing sounds very similar to the Arizona plan that Major League Baseball has continued to investigate.
SNY's Andy Martino reported on April 8 that Fauci was one of the government officials who had been apprised of the plan and had responded with initial positivity.
Martino added that many in the medical community believe that rapid testing could be available by May or June that would enable careful screening of those in baseball's semi-quarantine.
Under the still-developing Arizona plan, all 30 teams would play in and around Phoenix (while practicing social distancing) and be quarantined in the area while living in hotels. Frequent testing would also be involved.
Martino reported on April 7 that the initial backing of the plan by government officials came from health agencies who have generally proven themselves to be aligned with the scientific community -- not the wing of the Trump administration.
"It's either this or nothing," one industry source with direct knowledge of the Arizona plan told SNY last week.
Since details of the plan have leaked out, several players -- including Pete Alonso, Adam Ottavino, and Kyle Higashioka -- have come out in support. Former Met Todd Frazier was more skeptical of the plan, but told SNY's Justine Ward on Tuesday that he would "love to do it" if it's safe.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke Tuesday about the possibility of sports with no fans in attendance in the short-term.
"I would like to start watching sports," Cuomo said. "You know, whether or not we sit in a stadium with thousands of others, I don't know that that is in the short term for the foreseeable future. But I don't know why we can't watch it on television, right? Why can't you have games with no audiences, and just to start the sports and entertainment so people have something to watch and follow?"