Dr. Thomas Gill: MLB has best chance of finishing season; NFL has big COVID-19 risks

Orthopedic Sports Medicine

Major League Baseball is most likely to complete its shortened season, with the National Football League facing the greatest risk of COVID-19 transmission, orthopedic surgeon Thomas Gill, MD, told WHDH in a July 22 report.

Social distancing naturally takes place during the competitive phase of baseball, according to Dr. Gill, who has served as medical director for the Boston Red Sox and head team physician for the New England Patriots.

The closest two players get are typically the catcher and batter. "The catcher [is] behind a mask of sorts already. The batter is facing the opposite direction," he told WHDH. "So, when you're on the field, I have very little concern of a lot of spread of the virus during the competitive phase."

The highest risk of transmission would come with players and staff converging in the clubhouse or locker room. 

Conversely, the NFL comes with a much higher risk of transmission as players cannot socially distance or wear masks, according to Dr. Gill.

Dr. Gill advised the NFL to revisit the injured reserve list for COVID-19 as being placed on the list generally means that a player will miss the remainder of the season. 

He believes this will act as a big disincentive for players to report symptoms of the virus.

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