While the whole world isn’t using baseball news as a way to extrapolate vaccine distribution timelines, it did strike me as very notable that the Biden Administration told MLB that it believed young and healthy players would be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at some point before May 1. To me, that suggested a belief in the administration that we were going to hit “anyone who wants one can schedule to get one” at some point in April.
Well, sure enough, that’s what Dr. Anthony Fauci said today:
“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call open season,” Dr. Anthony Fauci says about the timeline for vaccination availability for all groups to begin getting shots. pic.twitter.com/BMGD3YSVex
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 11, 2021
Throughout the pandemic, Fauci has been guided by the science and data available as of that moment – he has certainly not skewed overly optimistic – so clearly he’s seeing rollout schedules that indicate the supply and demand situation will get us through the first tier categories over the next two months. In the call with MLB, some of that was reportedly because of the coming addition of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which could be approved and start distribution later this month. If that does happen, then it’s not nearly as difficult to imagine young and healthy folks being able to schedule appointments for a vaccine come late April.
Against that backdrop, as well as rapidly falling cases and hospitalizations (keep it up!), two big northern cities that had previously been shut down to in-person sports attendance are now opening up for 10% fan attendance later this month (New York and Columbus). I mention those and “northern” because it has generally been the case that more northern states and cities have been slower to re-open at various stages of the pandemic, and the sports teams we cover here are in Chicago, which is not yet open for any kind of fan attendance. So, then, if we’re starting to see even northern cities open up for limited fan attendance, you could speculate that Chicago might not be far behind.
And against that backdrop, I’ll note that Chicago this week announced further easing of restrictions regarding indoor dining capacities as its COVID case metrics see declines.
As with attendance at Spring Training, my take on all of this is: just follow the science. If very limited capacity can be accomplished safely by distancing and masking, then go for it (particularly at outdoor venues, where the risk of transmission is even lower). But if health experts are at all on the fence, then you just can’t do it – not when we’re THIS close to having anyone who wants a vaccine able to get one.