(CBS SF) — As the United States progresses towards flattening the curve, and government leaders continue to relax restrictions on shelter-in-place orders, the return of sports seems more and more optimistic.

In an interview with the New York Times, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned the curtain that’s been down on professional sports for nearly seven weeks may not be ready to come up.

“If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season,'” Fauci said.

Which sports would we be without? That remains to be seen.

Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that widespread testing for players and support staff still isn’t at the level it needs to be in order to have sports return with or without fans.

“I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet,” he said. “We might be ready, depending upon what the sport is. But right now, we’re not.”

The Giants and A’s would have been through a full month of their schedule had Major League Baseball started on time. USA Today reported that MLB officials were bullish on a plan to start playing late in June, and implement a modified three-division format to help cut down on travel. The plan would allow teams to play in their home venues.

Fauci suggested baseball’s path back could be along the lines of the originally floated “bio-dome” idea where players huddle in Arizona and Florida at spring training sites.

“Get a couple of cities and a couple of hotels, get them tested and keep them segregated,” he said. “I know it’s going to be difficult for them not to be out in society, but that may be the price you pay if you want to play ball.”

Regardless of what happens, Fauci told Washington Nationals’ star Ryan Zimmerman on a recent virtual chat that he thinks a modified version of baseball made only for TV is better than no baseball at all.

“I feel that strongly because I’m an avid baseball fan,” he told Zimmerman. “But also for the country’s mental health to have the great American pastime to be seen.”

 

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