MLB monitoring numbers improve as feds consider Blue Jays plan for Toronto

The Rogers Centre. (Carlos Osorio/CP)

TORONTO – As the federal government considers the provincially approved Toronto Blue Jays plan for regular-season games at Rogers Centre, Major League Baseball showed better results in the second week of monitoring under its COVID-19 protocol.

For the week ending Thursday, there were only six positives – five players, one staffer – out of the 10,548 samples collected, a 0.05 per cent rate in a stretch that included a five-day period with no new cases reported. The previous week, there were 17 positive results among 7,401 samples, or a 0.23 rate, compared against the 70 positives among 3,752 tests, or 1.87 per cent, during the intake period, according to MLB and the players association.

The improvement suggests that players are avoiding infections in their local communities, and on the rare occasions a positive case does turn up, baseball’s protocols are preventing a spread.

That’s something for federal government officials to consider as they weigh granting another exemption allowing a modified cohort quarantine at Rogers Centre.

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed the plan as it if were a done deal Thursday, at this point, only Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer, has provided approval, forwarding the matter to the federal government.

Toronto Public Health and mayor John Tory also signed off on the protocol, which includes nasal swab testing for all players in Toronto for increased testing accuracy. The every-other day testing mandated by MLB’s 2020 Operations Manual is done via saliva samples.

Similar to the training camp plan, the Blue Jays and visiting clubs will be isolated from the general public at the Rogers Centre and attached hotel, and forbidden from leaving the stadium footprint.

All travel will be done via chartered flights and private buses that follow Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines will carry players to and from stadium, minimizing contact with anyone outside of the travelling party.

In a statement to Sportsnet on Thursday, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sports, Tourism and Culture Industries, said the approvals granted to the Blue Jays and NHL “require players and staff to follow strict quarantine and isolation protocols from the general public, and provide the public health authorities the ability to rescind the approval if protocols are not followed.”

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