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NBA suspends season; is MLB next?

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Wednesday’s game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The players were quarantined and the benches were wiped down, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Shortly thereafter, the NBA announced it would be suspending the season following Wednesday night’s games. The league wrote:

The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was cancelled. The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that MLB was still considering its options. As of about an hour ago, the league still intended to play spring training and regular season games as scheduled, in front of fans where possible. There will be a league-wide conference call on Friday. One wonders if that might get moved up to tomorrow.

MLB should follow the NBA’s lead and suspend the season until further notice, skipping right over the idea of playing in empty ballparks. The baseball season hasn’t started yet, so the league does have the benefit of time, but this is all going to get worse until it gets better. Taking any steps to help slow the rate of transmission will be beneficial in myriad ways beyond the obvious, such as slowing the overloading of hospitals as well as protecting the elderly and otherwise immunocompromised.

The league and its individual teams should also offer financial assistance to stadium workers, as well as minor league players and coaches. This is going to be a hard time for them, as well as anyone who is freelance/contracting and part-time.

MLB and MLBPA announce first set of COVID-19 test results

MLB COVID-19 test results
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On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.

There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.

Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.

Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.