Major League Baseball's coronavirus outbreak highlights challenges of reopening


Even with plenty of resources and access to testing, Major League Baseball couldn't prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.

A coronavirus outbreak in Major League Baseball is threatening to end the baseball season less than a week after opening day — highlighting just how challenging it is to get back to life as normal in the midst of a pandemic.

A total of 14 players and staff members from the Miami Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus after their first series of the year with the Philadelphia Phillies. That outbreak has canceled the Marlins' scheduled game with the Baltimore Orioles Monday night, as well as the Phillies' scheduled Monday night game with the New York Yankees.

It comes after the league implemented numerous policies to prevent the spread of the virus, including social distancing guidelines, testing multiple times a week, and screening for symptoms daily.

Major League Baseball's outbreak comes as Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers are demanding schools reopen this fall. However, schools don't have nearly the resources that baseball does to implement the same kind of rules. Nor do they have access to testing where results come back quickly — raising questions about how schools, along with high school and college sports, can resume.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said schools should resume so that high school football can be played, even though his state is experiencing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country.

"The teachers that are mentors, the coaches — what about having football season? Things like that. We've got a lot of young kids who, this is their ticket to be able to go to college through athletics. What happens to all those dreams, and all those hopes, and all those aspirations?" DeSantis said to the press on July 14.

And on Monday, the same day the news broke about the Marlins, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote an op-ed in USA Today about the need to resume high school and college sports in the fall.

"The question isn't whether we need sports this fall — we do," Rubio wrote. "It's how we can make them safe, and states like Florida must allow local flexibility, which is critical and necessary for a safe restart."

Ultimately, schools across the country are announcing plans to resume school virtually in the fall. Many schools say they simply do not have the space to properly social distance and make class sizes smaller, nor the financial resources to implement the public health guidelines necessary for a safe reopening.

Already, polls show parents do not think it's safe to send children back to school in the fall. And it's unlikely that news of Major League Baseball's inability to contain the virus will make parents shed that fear in a few weeks when schools are scheduled to begin reopening.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.