For revenue generation, fan enjoyment and overall improvement of atmosphere, there is plenty of eagerness to see arenas and stadiums return to full capacity for sporting events.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, a physician and immunologist who is considered one of the foremost experts regarding COVID-19, believes the U.S. is still months away from making that happen.
In a story published by Yahoo! Sports on Monday, Fauci said that a capacity crowd at a sports game will be among “the last things that you’re gonna see” as the country prepares to roll out a vaccine through 2021.
He surmised that seeing an arena full of fans for the NBA Finals in July will be “cutting it close,” particularly given how the distribution of vaccines will be prioritized.
“We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people (from) the end of December through January, February, March,” Fauci said. “By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June.
“So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable (with full sports stadiums) – if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.”
Fauci did say that seeing full NFL stadiums by September is “possible.”
As of Dec. 1, the New York Times is reporting a total of 13.7 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. — including nearly 168,000 from Nov. 30 alone.
Over the past two weeks, case counts in the U.S. are up three per cent, deaths are up 28 per cent and hospitalizations are up 34 per cent.
“Having an efficacious vaccine in and of itself doesn’t get us out of this difficult situation we’re in,” Fauci said. “But an efficacious vaccine that’s widely utilized could get us to a point where we’re really approaching normality.”