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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told Axios that he's "very optimistic" about the league's season moving forward this fall — but cautioned that it won't be "football as usual."

Why it matters: "There are going to be a lot of changes in the way that we do things, from how we practice, to how we lay out our facilities, to how we travel, to how we organize sidelines and the on-field experience," he said.

His comments come after Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the NFL may need a "bubble" — like the NBA's plan at Walt Disney World — in order to make this season work.

  • "If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year," Fauci said.

The state of play: Sills said the league is using the concept of an "ecosystem" rather than a "bubble," arguing that it "encompasses the fact that it's everybody who is together with shared responsibility and shared risk."

  • The "ecosystem" concept has formed the basis of the league's plan for play this year, as it tries to mitigate the risk to players, coaches and staff.
  • He said that those within the "ecosystem" share a duty to "practice appropriate public health guidelines and minimize their own individual risk" to benefit the larger group.
  • "It's a different concept obviously than everybody being at one single site and nobody coming in and out," he added.

The big picture: Sills also noted that the NFL has been engaged in a "very collaborative effort" with other leagues "to share learnings and source ideas from each other" on best practices to keep their employees safe.

  • He believes that the league won't end the season with the same protocols put in place at the start, expecting them to "evolve and change as new knowledge becomes available."
  • "If you think about how long it's been since all this started — sheltering at home, quarantining — it feels like a really long time. But it's been about 100 days, and that's roughly the same amount of time that we have between now and the start of our season," he said.

The bottom line: "One of our athletic trainers probably expressed it best when he said, 'It's not going to feel normal because it's not going to be normal.'"

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

New York daily coronavirus cases top 1,000 for first time since June

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

New York on Friday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first since June.

Why it matters: The New York City metropolitan area was seen as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring. But strict social distancing and mask mandates helped quell the virus' spread, allowing the state to gradually reopen.

Sep 26, 2020 - Health

U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases

Flags on the Washington National Mall on Sept. 22, each representing 1,000 people killed from the virus. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The United States reported 55,054 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: It was the highest single-day increase since August 14, when the country reported 64,350 new cases over a 24-hour span, and suggests that the U.S. has yet to contain the spread of the virus.