NFL: Widespread COVID-19 testing needs to be available for season to start

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL announced earlier this week that they plan on starting the 2020 season on time. It’s a somewhat optimistic hope given the COVID-19 pandemic running roughshod throughout the United States right now.

Other professional sports leagues are in the midst of suspended seasons. The virus is growing faster in the United States than any other country in the world. It has certainly placed into question the viability of the NFL starting on time in September.

That’s magnified by the lack of COVID-19 tests available throughout the country. According to NFL Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills, widespread tests would need to be available for the season to start.

“As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport,” Sills said, via NFL Media. “Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.”

Dr. Sills also indicated that the NFL is not going to simply chart its own path, splitting with other sports and the rest of society in the process.

One possibility is that the early portion of the 2020 season could be played without fans in attendance. The NBA had planned that last month before Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the Association to suspend its season.

Since then, other leagues and major tournaments have followed suit around the sports world. Meanwhile, the 2020 NFL Draft will still go on as planned later this month. That’s the definition of the league charting its own path.

As of Thursday evening, north of 243,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s more than double the next country in line. A total of nearly 5,800 people have died within the states, too.

Until this curve if flattened, any hope of the NFL returning to business as usual can be taken with a grain of salt.