Numerous experts talked with KNBR-AM (San Francisco, CA) about the possibility of the NFL starting on time. Santa Clara County chief executive Jeffrey Smith was one of them. Formally a medical doctor and the chief medical officer of Contra Costa County, Smith shared that he doubted sports would return by Thanksgiving.

He said returning on time would take “a miracle, like a huge amount of herd immunity that is suddenly found, which is highly unlikely, or an immunization, which is highly unlikely, or a specific treatment, which is highly unlikely.”

But who makes that decision? The county’s public health officer, Dr. Sara Cody does. “I don’t have a crystal ball to know how this pandemic is going to look down the line, but my sense is that we’re in it for the long haul,” Cody said. “The first thing we put in place was banning mass gatherings, and it’s probably the last thing we would resume.”

Smith agrees with the sentiment, stating “the test only tells you what the results are at that particular moment and we’re not just talking about the players. There’s all their families, all the groundskeepers and all the support staff and front office staff. So it’s hard for me to imagine they would want to put everybody in 24-hour quarantine for the entire season.”

What would it take to return? Senior Scholar at John Hopkins University Center for Health Security Dr. Amesh Adalja, M.D. said immunity or a vaccine is key. Adalja, also a member of the NCAA coronavirus panel, explains that because the coronavirus has up to a 14-day incubation period, someone could test negative and show up positive hours or days later.

Even if the MLB or NFL have an isolated season in Florida or Arizona, it’s still not completely safe.

“There’s no way that they can play this season without risk of coronavirus transmission, unless they only use players that are already immune and don’t have fans, and all of the people that are on the sidelines are also immune,” Adalja said. “So there is going to be some level of risk.”

What do I say about the potential for an all-around-Arizona plan? It depends on how you define ‘feasible’. There’s no 100 percent safe way to ensure you don’t get the virus without being locked up. If you’re going to go out there and play baseball, you’re going to assume some risk. Can you reduce the risk to where you feel comfortable? What are you prepared to do? The first thing you have to decide is where is the line. What’s the amount of risk you’re willing to take?

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