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June 19, 2020

Five Phillies players, three staffers test positive for coronavirus in Florida

It really was only a matter of time.

With baseball enduring an endless back and forth between players and owners looking to start the 2020 MLB season, the Phillies are the first reported team to be dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. According to NBCSP's Jim Salisbury, eight people at the team's facility in Clearwater, Fla. have tested positive for COVID-19.

Five of them are players, who were down there staying in shape for the season and three are support staff. Their identities have yet to be reported but Salisbury does say all eight are doing fine and none are hospitalized. 

Here's more on the situation from Salisbury:

The outbreak comes at a time when Major League Baseball and the Players Association are trying to settle a financial dispute that would allow a shortened season to commence in July.

This is the first known outbreak in MLB and the commissioner's office is aware of it. It is not known if the situation will affect negotiations with the union. Both MLB and the union have consistently stated that matters of health supersede all others as they try to restart the game.

The Phillies closed their Spectrum Field facility in mid-March when the sporting world shut down because of the COVID-19 crisis. The facility received a deep and thorough cleansing. Players rehabilitating from injury were allowed to continue their recovery work under the supervision of a few of the team’s athletic trainers and staff.

Over the past few weeks, the team allowed several more players to begin working out at the facility. Strict health and safety precautions were taken and group sizes were limited. Still, there was an outbreak.  [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

The report was later confirmed by the Phillies themselves.

It comes as no surprise whatsoever that this outbreak is happening in Florida, where numbers continue to spike and seem to be hitting new record highs every day. 

Sadly, the eight people the Phillies disclosed may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Despite being one of the first to open, Florida has been behind the curve in terms of slowing the spread of the virus, as other states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey are seeing impressive decreases in cases and deaths and are beginning to reopen in full thanks to increased social distancing and stricter guidelines for businesses. 

The debate over whether it is safe at all for organized team sports to resume will no doubt heat up — at least in Philly. If you want to see baseball anytime soon, all we can say is do your part and wear a mask.

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