Manfred Says MLB Will Provide Extensive Testing For Players, Staff
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league has developed "extensive protocols" for returning to play, in which testing for coronavirus is "key." Manfred, appearing on CNN, said upon return, all players "would be tested multiple times a week," and testing "would be supplemented less frequently by antibody testing as well." If a player tests positive, teams will not go into a "14-day quarantine." The positive individual would be "removed from the rest of the group," and there will be a "quarantine arrangement in each facility and in each city." Manfred was pressed about what would happen if a larger outbreak occurred, and he conceded, "Nothing is risk-free in this undertaking." MLB will attempt to "mitigate that risk with repeated point-of-care testings" (“CNN Global Town Hall,” CNN, 5/15).
BY THE BOOK: In next week's SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, Eric Prisbell reports by the end of this week, MLB plans to "present to the union and all 30 clubs more than 80 pages of medical protocols that are expected to detail the league's plans for routine rapid-result COVID-19 testing of players and essential game-day employees." Those tests could be "administered daily if circumstances warrant." Testing would be "conducted by a centralized Utah-based lab used frequently by MLB, in part to avoid detracting from medical services that may be needed for the general public." For frequent testing of asymptomatic individuals, samples will be "sent to the Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory in Utah, which is MLB's minor league drug testing laboratory that has now been converted to a COVID-19 testing lab." The Utah lab will "do the testing because the infrastructure of collectors and how to ship samples is already in place." The turnaround time "will be 24 hours." MLB also "envisions making testing available to the families of players and staffs." It also "expects to be able to provide excess inventory of tests to health care providers for the general public" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/18 issue).
STAYING SAFE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Diamond & Radnofsky report MLB believes it can "gain access to the tens of thousands of kits required for this without taking tests away from frontline workers or clogging up hospitals and wouldn't proceed if that weren't the case." MLB understands that the "only way to guarantee complete safety for its employees is not to play at all in 2020." League officials "acknowledge that until a vaccine arrives, virtually any idea they come up with will likely still mean that somebody within their ranks is infected at some point." MLB is "confident that its plan strikes the right balance" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/15). SI.com's Tom Verducci noted the SMRTL works with several pro leagues and WADA to "perform PED testing and research." But with sports shut down, SMRTL has "turned its testing expertise toward COVID-19." Last month, with the assistance of MLB and in cooperation with Stanford and USC, it "launched the first nationwide testing program of COVID-19 antibodies in blood samples" (SI.com, 5/14).