Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Players Association (MLBA) on Friday jointly announced the results of the first round of COVID-19 testing as camps around the league have reopened. Of the 3,185 samples collected and tested, 38 came back positive for COVID-19, which comes to a rate of 1.2 percent. Of the 38 positive tests, 31 were players and seven were non-player personnel. Overall, 19 of MLB teams had at least one positive test.
The low positive rate is good news for MLB as the league works its way toward a planned Opening Day on July 23 or 24. The league and players have already agreed to an array of testing and safety protocols to limit the spread of the virus, and this gives them a low starting baseline from which to work. By way of comparison, the overall positive test rate for the United States as a whole is around 9.0 percent, per the Centers for Disease Control.
While the MLB schedule has yet to be finalized, teams are expected to play in their usual home ballparks and compete against a regional schedule in order to limit travel. The regular season will span 60 games. The 2020 season was originally scheduled to begin in late March, but the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training and pushed back Opening Day almost four full months. Obviously, a cluster of infections within and across teams could imperil the season, so there are incentives to proceed carefully, even beyond the more important health considerations.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as the common cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The COVID-19 virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While some patients show mild symptoms and recover, others develop life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia. As of July 3, more than 500,000 people worldwide have died from COVID-19.