Major League Baseball has officially paused the season of the Miami Marlins until Monday now that half the active roster has tested positive for coronavirus.
Four more Marlins reportedly tested positive Tuesday. This follows Monday’s news that 13 players and coaches from the Marlins had tested positive amid an outbreak on the team. Of the 13, 11 were believed to be players, which brings the total of Marlins players who have tested positive to 15 — or half of the team’s roster — in the five days their season has been going.
The Marlins were in limbo, as infected players recuperate and players from their taxi squad prepare to join the big-league team, so MLB made the decision to pause the Marlins' season until next Monday. They were supposed to play the Orioles in Baltimore in a series that lasted until Thursday, then host the Washington Nationals in Miami from Friday-Sunday.
The schedule changes announced by MLB on Tuesday are:
• Marlins at Orioles on Wednesday and Thursday, postponed.
• Nationals at Marlins on Friday-Sunday, postponed.
• Phillies vs. Yankees, Tuesday-Thursday, postponed.
• Yankees at Orioles on Wednesday-Thursday added to the schedule.
The league also said that more rescheduling for the week of Aug. 3 will be announced this week.
Marlins’ outbreak has far-reaching implications
The Marlins had four players test positive for Sunday’s game against the Phillies, but played anyway. Now, the Marlins have had Monday’s and Tuesday’s games against the Orioles postponed.
Because the Marlins were visiting the Phillies at the time of the outbreak, the Phillies’ game against the Yankees on Monday was also postponed. Word came down early Tuesday morning that MLB has now postponed the second game of that Yankees-Phillies series.
Early reports from the Phillies tests are that no players tested positive, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but it’s important to remember that the COVID-19 incubation period is up to 14 days.
The Marlins are still in Philadelphia, and the infected personnel will stay there, per MLB’s safety protocols. Players need to have two negative tests 24 hours apart before they can return. The Marlins, meanwhile, are also looking for more players they can add to their team, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, if they’re able to return to action Monday.
However, Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade County, said Tuesday that the Marlins should follow 14-day quarantine protocols before returning home, which would create another problem — can the Marlins plan home games as planned Aug. 4-Aug. 6 against the Phillies? Or should the healthy Marlins just stay in Philly and play there?
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Marlins owner Derek Jeter said the team is moving to a daily testing schedule and hopes to make “informed decisions and prepare for our return to action next week.”
MLB’s response: Safety protocols designed with this in mind
As part of MLB announcement on the schedule change, the league said its safety protocols were designed to handle situations like the Marlins’. MLB re-affirmed the importance of diligently following the protocols. It also said there have been no new tests since Friday through 6,400 tests from other teams’ on-field personnel.
Here’s the league’s statement on the matter:
The health and safety protocols were designed with a challenging circumstance like the one facing the Marlins in mind. The response outlined in the joint MLB-MLBPA Operations Manual was triggered immediately upon learning of the cluster of positive cases, including contact tracing and the quarantining and testing of all of the identified close contacts. The Marlins’ personnel who tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving care.
In over 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, July 24th, there have been no new positives of on-field personnel from any of the other 29 Clubs. This outcome is in line with encouraging overall data since the June 27th start of testing. Through last Thursday, July 23rd, 99 of the 32,640 samples – 0.3% – had been positive.
The difficult circumstances of one Club reinforce the vital need to be diligent with the protocols in all ways, both on and off the field. We will continue to bolster our protocols and make any necessary adjustments. The realities of the virus still loom large, and we must operate with that in mind every day. We are confident that Clubs and players will act appropriately, for themselves and for others, and the data provides reason to believe that the protocols can work effectively.
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