9:33PM: The camps of at least 10 different teams have been “affected” by coronavirus cases since the end of Spring Training, Heyman tweets.
6:47PM: A total of 40 Major League players and staff members had positive COVID-19 tests in the last week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports. This total presumably includes the already-reported cases in recent days — members of the Yankees, Angels, Phillies, and Astros organizations are known to have the virus, while the Blue Jays and Giants also closed their training camps after people connected with the teams displayed COVID symptoms. As a result of this outbreak, the league ordered all spring training facilities to be closed (and thoroughly cleaned) while new health protocols are determined between the MLB and the players union.
The sheer number of people involved at every level of a big league organization makes it inevitable that more positive results beyond these initial 40 cases will emerge as testing continues in the coming days, weeks, and months. Even after a more concrete set of health and safety protocols are established, the threat of COVID-19 will hang over whatever baseball we see played in 2020, including the open question as to what will happen if a team-wide outbreak (akin to the Phillies’ current situation) occurs during the season.
As MLB Network’s Jon Heyman puts it, COVID-19 is “the common enemy” that both baseball’s owners and players need to battle first and foremost, even beyond the two sides’ protracted negotiations over how to launch the 2020 season. The health situation has led to a new “sense of urgency” in talks, Nightengale writes, though the rapidly shrinking calendar is also a factor given the players’ desire to play more than 60 games.