Although MLB went to extra lengths this morning to make sure folks understand that “the Arizona plan” is merely a contingency option under discussion – there have been no approvals sought or secured – it does have the flavor of something very much under serious consideration.
To that end, it’s important to understand the many, many logistical issues that would accompany playing games in Arizona under a quarantine as soon as May. I think Joel Sherman’s piece today did the best job of laying out those many challenging issues:
https://t.co/80dV3Il3nh MLB is considering games in Arizona — but there are many hurdles still ahead
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) April 7, 2020
In the meantime, I thought this update from Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the leading national voices on the current pandemic, was worth noting:
While top US health officials haven’t yet endorsed the Arizona plan for MLB, where the season will be played in the Phx area, and it’s not yet fully developed, word is Dr. Anthony Fauci has been apprised of the broad concept of the AZ plan and is said to see some promise in it.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 7, 2020
In other words, if Heyman’s report is accurate, Dr. Fauci *could see some version of the Arizona plan as plausible.* You have to take a dozen grains of salt with that one, though, because the whole thing remains entirely predicated on widespread availability of rapid testing for COVID-19, and outside of Jeff Passan’s report, I don’t know that I’ve seen optimism anywhere nationally that we’re going to be in that position by mid to late-May.
That said, an update on that front from the world of the NBA:
Sources stressed that the process is still exploratory and no clear timetable exists. Further, they say, involved parties know that testing availability issues persist and want to proceed appropriately and thoughtfully. In other words, no one wants to jump the line, so to speak. https://t.co/JFh9hmSiqZ
— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) April 7, 2020
Once again, the NBA – like the other sports surely realize – knows that it cannot resume games unless it has easy access to near daily rapid testing of its players and key personnel. And it can’t get there until the testing is available, with relative ease and affordability, nationwide to everyone else who needs access. No sport is going to want to be seen as “line-jumping” in a case like this, no matter how important they might think their league to be.
So, while it’s good to know that rapid testing is on the radar of the NBA, we’re not necessarily closer to knowing just how realistic it is to HAVE that rapid testing soon. Again, with the Passan report – via MLB sources – as the exception, which suggested the testing could be widely available in May.
Speaking of May:
Adam Silver says he's told his people with the NBA that there will be no way to have a real answer about where things are headed in terms of starting the season again until, at a minimum, May 1.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 6, 2020
We’re in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment, though I expect the Arizona plan – and the NBA’s plans – will continue to be discussed heavily in the coming days.
In the meantime, all eyes are on peak cases in the United States coming and going, and then the widespread availability of rapid point-of-care testing devices.