Coronavirus: No sports until Thanksgiving? Santa Clara County official thinks so

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Thursday, April 9, 2020
Santa Clara County executive: we'll be lucky to have sports games by Thanksgiving
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This week during the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting, Dr. Jeff Smith discussed the fact that even if shelter-in-place orders are lifted life may not go back to normal leading to a further delay in sports.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The 49ers Faithful is anxiously awaiting the day that they can safely pack Levi's Stadium and watch their defending NFC Champions live after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that day may not be as soon as many thought according to Santa Clara County executive officer Dr. Jeff Smith.

"Sorry to say, I don't expect that we'll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving and we'll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving," Dr. Smith said.

These predictions came Tuesday during the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting as Dr. Smith discussed the fact that even if shelter-in-place orders are lifted and life can seemingly go back to normal, it may not immediately get there.

"With this particular pandemic, when the orders are weakened, it's pretty much guaranteed that there will be new infections," Dr. Smith said. "There will definitely be individuals that get sick and because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely."

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The rise of cases of the novel coronavirus has led to the sports teams in Santa Clara County and nationally to put a hold to their active seasons.

The NFL is the only one operating mostly as usual as their season doesn't officially start until September.

But a stop to sports until Thanksgiving would impact the 49ers who told ABC7 News in a statement today that:

"While there is much debate regarding the appropriate time for the return of sports, our intent is to exercise great patience and make the most informed decisions regarding the health and wellness of all San Francisco 49ers and Levi's Stadium employees, patrons, and the community at large. Our organization continues to collaborate with federal, state, and local health organizations, as well as our League office, to monitor the evolving developments regarding COVID-19."

The San Jose Giants also shared the following statement as they wait to kick-off their 2020 campaign.

"The health and safety of our employees, players and fans is the highest priority of the San Jose Giants. At a time where we are typically gearing up for another great baseball season, we are instead monitoring developments and challenges in our region related to COVID-19 with Minor League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants and additional Santa Clara County Health Officials. While we hope for a breakthrough that allows a shortened season to take place, our ballpark remains closed to the public at this time. Our staff remains hard at work finding creative ways to engage with our fanbase on social media as well as give back to the local community that means so much to us."

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Sports consultant Andy Dolich says everyone wants to know when sports will return, but a key is the how to do it safely.

"To me, this is all about teamwork," Dolich said. "I think this needs to be a unified decision because it comes down to us. It comes down to the fans and our job to make sure that there are fans for the future."

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said a delay to sports and football in the fall would impact her son, an incoming freshmen college football player.

She says Dr. Smith's predictions come as a warning as to what can happen the future if people don't do their jobs in the present.

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"We all need to do our part," Supervisor Chavez said. "If we're going to make sure that we get people back to the baseball field, the soccer field, the football field and the basketball courts, we need to make sure that we're all sheltering-in-place and bending that curve and flattening that curve as fast as we can."

The other professional and collegiate sports teams that we reached out to in Santa Clara County did not want to comment on Dr. Smith's predictions at this time.

However, in previous statements, each organizations did say that they will follow the guidelines from health officials and sports leagues.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here