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Multiple Rangers employees test positive for COVID-19, are ‘terrified’ for their safety

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As COVID-19 cases spike to record highs in Texas, Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that multiple Texas Rangers employees have tested positive. He reports that these positive tests have come around ten days after the Rangers began urging employees to come in to work at Globe Life Field rather than work remotely. An urging that in some cases amounted to a requirement, with some employees being told it was not optional:

While there was never an explicit mandate, multiple employees told ESPN their managers said working from home was not an option. Exceptions were made for some employees . . . “We are terrified for our safety,” said one employee who works for the team and requested anonymity out of fear of repercussions by the organization. “Terrified to share COVID-19, unknowingly, with an older employee, a pregnant co-worker or anyone else who may have some sort of underlying condition. We all knew it would come to this. It was only a matter of time.”

The Rangers have issued a statement saying that they are following cleaning and sanitizing protocols and that they will not allow employees back into the office unless they test negative for COVID-19, but they have not yet changed their work-from-home policy, which requires special approval. Passan notes that the Rangers’ reopening of the office is “accelerated” compared to most other major league clubs.

The story goes on to mention that many Rangers employees are not wearing masks at work concerning other employees. Likewise, many were alarmed by a team-affiliated doctor who told employees in a Zoom meeting that employees were likelier to be infected by the coronavirus at home than at work.  Meanwhile, the Rangers have held multiple events at Globe Life Field including high school graduations.

On Thursday, Texas saw a record-high number of positive COVID-19 cases, spiking to 5,996 on that day alone. Yesterday the number was 5,707. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has removed mayors’ abilities to enact enforceable stay-home orders, has banned local jurisdictions from requiring masks, and is unwilling to enact any such orders on the state level. He did, however, issue an order shutting bars back down on Friday, and scaled back restaurant capacity to 50% in response to the massive outbreak which has gripped the state.

Baseball seeking a second lab for MLB COVID-19 tests

MLB COVID-19 tests
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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last night that Major League Baseball is “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency” of MLB COVID-19 tests.

The current setup — as planned by MLB and approved by the MLBPA as a part of the plan to play the 2020 season — is for all MLB COVID-19 tests to be sent to and processed by MLB’s PED testing lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you likely heard, there have been delays in the administration of COVID-19 tests and in the shipping of tests to Utah, but to date no one has reported that the lab itself has not been able to handle the tests once they’ve arrived there. If MLB is looking for a second lab site a week into this process, it suggests that their plans for the Utah lab might not be working the way they had anticipated.

The issues with testing have created unease around the game in recent days, with some players and team executives speaking out against Major League Baseball’s handling of the plan in the early going. Commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, has responded defensively to the criticism.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported this morning that, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States still lacks testing capacity. From the report:

Lines for coronavirus tests have stretched around city blocks and tests ran out altogether in at least one site on Monday, new evidence that the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19 . . .“It’s terrifying, and clearly an evidence of a failure of the system,” said Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital . . . in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.

It’s less than obvious, to say the least, how Major League Baseball plans to expand capacity for MLB COVID-19 tests while America as a whole is experiencing “a new testing crisis” and a “failure of the system.” At the very least it’s less than obvious how, even if Major League Baseball can do so, it can do so ethically.