SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The New England Patriots looking to fill spots after six players opt out of the 2020 season. They have now re-signed rookie quarterback Brian Lewerke just earlier today, but the big question everyone's wondering is, how realistic is this season amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Western Mass News spoke with a former Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins team doctor, getting answers to how this season could play out.

Players are still getting tested for the coronavirus today. NFL Chief Medical Officer Doctor Allen Sills said in a conference call that the league isn't allowed to announce COVID-19 testing results just yet, but the testing is going very well.

He said one problem is that some of the positive tests are persistent positives, not new cases, meaning while players are recovering, their results are still showing positive.

Western Mass News spoke with the former Patriots team doctor and now orthopedic surgeon Doctor Thomas Gill, who said he's confident that the season will start, but for it to last, certain factors need to be implemented.

For starters, he said the key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 starts with the trainers and those responsible for cleaning and sanitizing the equipment and facility.

Gill also said sanitation efforts need to be above and beyond due to the high amount of interaction players will have with the gear.

He admits there is no possible way for players to socially distance when playing football but suggests they should be split into their position groups when they eventually take the field.

That would mean running backs should be with running backs, linemen with linemen, and so forth.

He told Western Mass News wearing masks and maintaining social distancing on the sidelines and in locker rooms is something no player, nor coach can take lightly. He admits an unpopular suggestion for the league is to schedule these games based on where these teams are playing, looking at the higher risk of each city.

"If you look just at the epidemiological standpoint, the sheer potential for a player to have COVID-19, there's a lot bigger risk for the New England players going down to Miami than having the Miami players come to Boston," he said. "Why does the league want to send players who have been successfully isolated or dealt with at home, why are we sending them down to areas where...they're going backward on their phases, they're not going forwards."

Another suggestion Gill offers is for the NFL to implement an injured reserved list specifically for players who test positive for COVID-19. This "IR" list would have players quarantine for 14 days and test negatively before taking to the field again.

The league has upped its testing to three negative tests before players can enter the team's facility. Players could soon be getting results as early as tomorrow.

Tune in to Western Mass News at 6 p.m. on ABC40, for more details on what Gill is suggesting for players to stay safe throughout the season.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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