The NBA is getting ready to come back in Florida. So, too, is MLS. And now it looks like the WNBA is headed there, as well. Meanwhile, whether or not the Sunshine State is undercounting COVID-19 deaths, the state’s official word is that Thursday was the day with the most confirmed coronavirus cases there, 1,419.
Meanwhile, in Texas, there’s this headline and subhead combination from The Dallas Morning News:
“Gov. Greg Abbott says professional, collegiate stadiums in Texas can operate at 50% capacity”
“The new order comes just three days after the state set a single-day high of positive COVID-19 tests.”
The last time there were fewer than 500 new coronavirus cases in Texas was April 13. If you think that’s going to change as the state continues to push ahead with reopening plans, you haven’t been paying attention.
At least for now, professional leagues aren’t taking Abbott up on his stupid plan, but they are casting their lot with Ron DeSantis’ stupid plan in Florida.
Florida’s spike has given a clear answer to the Washington Post’s Ben Terris and Josh Dawsey, who on May 11 published a piece headlined, “Does Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis know what he’s doing? We’re about to find out.” Not that most people in possession of functioning brain cells couldn’t have answered that question before, but now there really can’t be a debate.
Or maybe there can, because leagues are tripping over themselves to set up shop in Florida. All of these “bubble” plans are nice in theory, but they’re light on contingency plans for what happens if and when — really, just when — the virus strikes the league. We’ve already seen it at Ole Miss and Alabama. It’s ridiculous to think that in a state where the virus is surging as containment measures are lifted, leagues will be able to protect players and staff effectively.
The New England Journal of Medicine just had an article titled, “Asymptomatic Transmission, the Achilles’ Heel of Current Strategies to Control Covid-19.” And while Rudy Gobert did have some symptoms when he had coronavirus, Utah Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell did not. Now, maybe it’s so long ago that we’ve all forgotten — nearly three months — but it was Gobert’s positive test and careless behavior that led to the NBA shutting down in the first place, and if we’re being honest, the rest of the sports world, too.
Florida has positive tests. Florida has careless behavior. Florida is where the NBA and other leagues are heading to resume playing.
There were more than five times as many confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida on Thursday than there were in the entire United States on March 11, the day the NBA announced it was suspending play. Orange County, where Disney World is, had 73 new cases on Thursday, its most since recording 75 on April 13.
With theme parks reopening, and people traveling in from other places to get to them, what do we think is going to happen? Do we really trust that everyone is going to strictly adhere to the guidelines? We already know the answer to that is no.
It’s not too late for leagues to reconsider turning themselves into Florida Men and Florida Women. If they don’t now, every bit of evidence we have says they’re eventually going to have to anyway.