TAMPA, Fla. - Florida's COVID-19 numbers are on the rise again, as the omicron variant spreads across the state. Rising case numbers across the country have forced several cancellations across the sports world and Tampa Bay’s teams are among them.
Sports fans wonder how likely we are to see more cancellations -- and whether it will be reminiscent of the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
The leagues say players are vaccinated, which means sports teams may give the rest of the country a glimpse at how the vaccines hold up against the omicron variant.
Meanwhile, leagues are trying to figure out how far they'll go to limit the spread. The NFL announced it is reinstating some protocols.
"It is really no news for us," head coach Bruce Arians said of the protocols. "We have been doing a lot of these protocols anyway."
The NHL has postponed games for three teams, including the Avalanche, after outbreaks among players.
"It has just been frustrating," shared sports fan Richard Reeves of New Tampa. "From week to week, you never know who is playing and who is not."
When leagues were shut down in March of 2020, and even when they restarted later that year, there was no vaccine, and little was known about how COVID spreads.
"This might be the beginning of another major outbreak," said FOX 13 Sports anchor Kevin O'Donnell. "It is tough to make a call right now."
O'Donnell expects that the NFL will take it on a game-by-game basis, especially with playoffs just around the corner.
He expects the NHL to temporarily shut down teams that have outbreaks. He also expects NHL participation in the Olympics to be in jeopardy.
"It is going to be a fluid situation in how they handle this thing. I know they are expecting surges," said O'Donnell.
Indeed, one NFL game has been pushed to Monday and another two to Tuesday.
In addition to the Avalanche, the NHL has shut down two teams with lots of players out.
The sports world is suddenly – once again – on tenuous turf.
"I don't like it, but it is part of the deal. You have to keep these people safe," said sports fan Tylor Rivord. "It's just part of what you have to do."
It is unclear how many of the players who are out have tested positive or have symptoms.
Coach Arians argued that those who are asymptomatic should still be allowed to play.