Earlier this month, CBS Sports reported that the Texas Rangers had become the first known Major League Baseball team to bring workers back into the office -- and had done so despite surging COVID-19 cases in Tarrant County. Not even two weeks have passed, yet CBS Sports can confirm a report by ESPN's Jeff Passan that "several members" of the organization have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days, according to an internal announcement.
CBS Sports has since obtained and reviewed the internal memo issued to Rangers employees on June 11, days before the mandate to come back went into effect.
The memo, entitled "Front Office Re-Opening Guidelines," does not explicitly require employees to return to the office, but the section on remote work leaves little room for interpretation. "We are excited to invite everyone back to work," the memo reads. "Remote work may be offered depending on the circumstances to employees who have child care issues or who have a medical condition and are in need of an accommodation."
The memo then identifies an employee in the human resources department to contact for "approval of that request," indicating two things: 1) returning to the office is not a voluntary arrangement; and 2) the team is retaining the right to deny requests as it sees fit.
The memo does corroborate a Rangers' spokesperson's assertion that employees have their temperatures checked before entering the building, and that they are mandated to wear a mask once they are inside.
The Rangers are located in Arlington, Texas, which is part of Tarrant County. According to the government's data, more than 3,300 infections have been reported since the Rangers reopened their offices. Tarrant County as a whole has set a new weekly record for infections in three consecutive weeks. Nearly half of its 10,000 total cases have been recorded during that time.
In accordance with Governor Greg Abbott's decree, the Rangers (and Houston Astros) are still believed to be interested in having fans in the stands up to 50 percent capacity. That would mean around 20,000 individuals for each team, based on official capacity figures.