Report: MLB Details COVID-19 Testing, Social Distancing Plan, More in Briefing

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 16, 2020

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to reporters after a meeting of baseball team owners in New York, Thursday, June 20, 2019. The Tampa Bay Rays have received permission from Major League Baseball's executive council to explore a plan that could see the team split its home games between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal, reports said Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

As part of Major League Baseball's return-to-play proposal, the league is reportedly looking to implement more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week and an overhaul of in-game settings that encourages social-distancing measures. 

In a draft of MLB's health-and-safety manual obtained by ESPN's Jeff Passan, the plan outlines testing, travel plans and various limitations on in-stadium activities, such as discouraging players from showering at stadiums and use of ride-sharing apps during road trips. 

In an interview with CNN this week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league will use a laboratory in Utah to handle COVID-19 testing with a 24-hour turnaround and a positive test for a player would result in the player being quarantined and contact tracing set up for anyone believed to be around the player: 

"Nothing is risk-free in this undertaking. We're trying to mitigate that risk with the repeated point-of-care testing to make sure that people who have had contact have not been exposed, and by obviously removing those individuals that have a positive test, they will be quarantined until they have two negative tests over a 24-hour period."

Passan noted the manual states MLB will offer "free diagnostic and antibody/serology testing" for healthcare workers and other first responders in teams' home cities "as a public service."

Individuals would be separated into safety tiers, with players, on-field personnel and medical personnel in the top tier and essential employees, like front-office officials, in the second tier. 

For teams playing on the road, players wouldn't be allowed to leave their hotel to eat at restaurants. Players and personnel in the top two tiers "would be discouraged" from going to crowded bars even in their home city. 

This plan, which Passan wrote "will swell beyond its robust 67 pages when complete," is contingent on MLB and the MLB Players Association agreeing to terms on a return-to-play plan. 

Owners approved the league's plan, which includes an 82-game regular season starting in July, during a virtual meeting Tuesday.