Major League Baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays are closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus as the regular season rapidly approaches.
The Tampa Bay Rays have already been seen their home city in the news after two people from the Tampa area were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As that number begins to rise in both the Tampa area and the state of Florida, officials are taking action.
Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was scheduled to make a campaign stop in Tampa on March 12 but has nixed those plans due to the “public health emergency.”
All of Florida’s public universities have shifted to online school work. At the time of this writing, Florida has confirmed a total of 28 cases with two deaths. This is according to the Washington Post’s up-to-date tracker of confirmed cases and deaths.
Not only do the Rays have to worry about the situation in the Tampa area, but they are slated to travel to Boston for a three-game set on April 6. Massachusetts already has 95 confirmed cases and at least 70 of those confirmed cases stemmed from the Biogen Leadership Conference in Boston.
Impact on Other Sports
On Wednesday morning the city of San Francisco has banned crowds of more than 1,000 people gathering in one place. The Golden State Warriors became the first team to face playing in an empty arena. Instead, the NBA has just announced that they are suspending its season as Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz has tested positive for the virus.
Baseball Cities Affected
The ban in San Francisco is already having an impact on the Giants. They have canceled an exhibition game on March 23 against the Athletics. They now face the obstacle of whether they should play their home games in San Francisco or in other cities.
Seattle is one of the hardest-hit cities in the country right now. The state of Washington has already lost 29 lives to the virus (as of the time of this writing).
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has restricted gatherings to 250 people or less in three counties, including King County, where the Mariners play.
As of six hours ago, Major League Baseball was reportedly considering different sites for the games scheduled in heavily infected areas. They have discussed moving the games to the opposing team’s home field or even playing regular-season games on spring training fields.
"“I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now,”"
Currently, Major League Baseball plans to play the season as scheduled. The NBA’s suspension may cause Major League Baseball to re-evaluate their approach. It will be difficult to play games at spring facilities when Florida houses half of the league’s complexes and currently has the sixth most confirmed cases.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.