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Epidemiologist Zach Binney Joins The Doug Christie Show To Discuss The Return Of Sports

(Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

Binney joined the show to discuss how sports can return in a manner that is safe for all players and personnel

This week on The Doug Christie Show with Jason Ross, Epidemiologist Zach Binney from Oxford College of Emory University joined the show to discuss the return of sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the NBA and MLB set to return by the end of July, several questions have arisen pertaining to the health and safety protocols that are being put into place by each league.

Interview with Epidemiologist Zach Binney

With COVID-19 cases spiking across the country, Binney joined the show to answer some pressing questions that the public–and players involved–might have about the return of professional sports.

On how Binney sees each league coming back on a case-by-case basis, the highly respected Epidemiologist shared his thoughts:

“There are some sports with what I think are stronger return plans and some with weaker ones. I think that the NBA is definitely one of the stronger–if not the strongest plan–alongside MLS and the NHL.”

Major League Baseball reached an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association on Tuesday afternoon, ending a three-month negotiations war with an announcement of a 60-game season beginning on July 24th.

Binney made it clear that the MLB’s health and safety protocols are concerning, casting some doubt on playing the entire 60-game season.

“MLB’s plan, I definitely have a lot of concerns about. The last we heard of that plan, they were going to try and play in home markets and have players live at home. We have already seen how that can go wrong at the Phillies’ Spring Training complex down in Clearwater (Florida) where they had about a dozen cases and had to shutdown.”

The NBA is beginning to ramp up, with players expected to report to their teams for training camp by next week.

Binney dove into what works and what does not work regarding the NBA’s safety plan and ‘bubble’ site of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

“As far as the NBA goes, if you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have said I thought their plan had maybe an 85-percent chance of working. I thought that it was really good, really strong. I was very impressed. Their major achilles heel it’s in Florida, and unfortunately Florida has taken a very bad turn for the worst over the last couple of weeks. So now, maybe 65/35 if you had to ask me, in favor of it still working. It’s a good plan, but with the amount of virus in Florida, that just magnifies any weaknesses. If a case gets into the bubble there, they could be in some trouble.”

Personal player cooks, Hotel personnel, Disney employees and more will be present at the Orlando ‘bubble’ site. If all of those groups were subject to the quarantine guidelines as well, would that improve the players’ chances of remaining safe? Binney answered:

“I do think at this point it would solidify it a little bit. It would give them a little more slack, or a little more runway with how bad that things could get. If you had asked me a couple of months ago if you could have a bubble without the housekeepers and food service staff members, I would have said no way. But as we learn more about the virus, we learn that this person-to-object-to-person transmission doesn’t seem to be a common thing that happens. It’s mostly this face-to-face respiratory droplet spread. So, if you can eliminate face-to-face contact, which I think the NBA was arguing rightly that you can do, with housekeepers by having them not go into the rooms when people are there, and food service staff by only having takeout meals and stuff like that.”

Over the course of the 16-minute interview, Binney discusses each plan in depth, sharing his support or concerns for the aspects of each plan.

Listen to the entire interview by clicking the ‘play’ button on the audio file located at the top of the article or by listening to yesterday’s edition of The Doug Christie Show with Jason Ross right here.