A new wave of COVID-19 cases is starting to spike in Florida, and Major League Baseball has shut down all 30 spring training facilities after players tested positive for the virus in multiple sites.
This is the first major outbreak among baseball teams. According toJon Heyman, each facility will undergo a deep cleaning. Upon reopening, it will require a negative test for entry into the facilities.
On Friday, the Phillies confirmed that five players and three members of their staff in their spring training home of Clearwater, Fla., tested positive for COVID-19. More team personnel are awaiting test results, so that number could increase. The names of those who tested positive were not released.
The Blue Jays shut down their facilities in Dunedin, Fla. Thursday after a player exhibited symptoms for the virus, perJeff Passan.
In March, a Yankees minor-league player tested positive for the virus, but that was contained case. Even though Clearwater and Dunedin are just six miles from each other, this suggests it could spread to other spring facilities as well.
The league and players association have not yet agreed to health protocols for the 2020 season. It's not known if these positive tests will impact negotiations between the players and union for how to start the 2020 season.
In nearby Tampa, the Lightning halted skates after some members of the organization tested positive for the virus.
Florida has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. On Friday, the state reported more than 3,800 new cases in the last day, with 43 more deaths. Experts predict the state could become a hotbed for the virus.
That is significant to the baseball world, as at least two teams, the Marlins and Rays, expect to play their season in the state. Additionally, the Blue Jays might have to play their season in their spring training stadium in Dunedin, as travel between the United States and Canada could be restricted.
The Pirates' spring home of Bradenton, Fla., is not far from Clearwater or Dunedin, with the Pirates being within 50 miles of both facilities.
The Pirates sent almost all of their players and personnel home shortly after spring training was halted in March, allowing mostly players who were rehabbing to stay. Since then, most of those players have also gone home.
Bradenton was one of the first cities in the state to have a positive COVID-19 test. The Pirates deep cleaned their facilities twice in March out of an "abundance of caution," including shortly after that first positive test. No Pirates players or personnel have tested positive for the disease.