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Santa Clara executive: ‘Miracle’ needed for NFL season to start on time at Levi Stadium

A few health professionals weighed in

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

We are officially a week away from the NFL Draft, which will air April 23-25 virtually. More information continues to come out that the NFL season may not start on time. A Santa Clara executive sounded confident there won’t be any football at Levi’s Stadium early in the season. Dr. Jeffrey Smith told ESPN, “the fundamental thing is sports is not a local event. If you have people traveling from all over and you have no way of knowing whether they’re infected or not —I mean, 50,000 of them in a stadium is not a good idea.” The county executive for Santa Clara County said “a miracle” will be required for the 2020 NFL season to kick off on time at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

On April 4, the President of the United States held a conference call with major league sports commissioners and expressed his hope to have fans attend events by August and September. California Governor Gavin Newsome responded with:

Dr. Smith told ESPN that the Santa Clary County health officer has the final say on signing off on sporting events:

“Neither the federal government nor the state government has the legal authority to contravene the public health officers. The law was set up very specifically to make the public health officer’s decision an apolitical decision.”

Dr. Sara Cody is the county health officer. She told reporters it’s too early to say whether the coronavirus pandemic will have slowed enough by football season. She said, “my sense is that we’re in it for the long haul. The first thing we put in place was banning mass gatherings, and it’s probably the last thing we would resume.” Smith said Trump’s call for sports to return as quickly as possible is, “A bad mistake.” If sports returned too soon, Smith said, “more people would die. It’s just as simple as that.”

Smith’s “miracle” quote was in response to starting the season as scheduled on September 11. Smith said, “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.” Most health professionals in the article and the past few weeks have been consistent in saying that the virus spreads by people being close together. This topic is unprecedented for all of us. It’ll be a wait and see as far as playing football, and that’s as good of an answer as we’ll get.