While the United States continues to make its plans for a broader re-opening with particular respect to vaccinated individuals – the CDC today announced updated guidance that eliminates virtually all restrictions for those who have been vaccinated – Major League Baseball continues to deal with the middle ground. The pandemic isn’t over, not every player or staff member is vaccinated, but many are, but there’s also daily testing, and on and on.
In that respect, it was probably inevitable – even in this phase of life where restrictions are being lifted and vaccinations are possibly reaching a wall – that there would be another outbreak or mini-outbreak on an MLB team. If you’re still testing aggressively, even as cases go down nationally, you’re going to get some positives – including among those who’ve been vaccinated. We’ve seen a couple cases with the Padres recently, and a decently-sized set of cases with the Yankees. That now includes Gleyber Torres, who was fully vaccinated and had also previously had COVID:
The Yankees have been tested a bunch of different times with a bunch of different methods since their first breakthrough case on Sunday.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) May 13, 2021
Torres will have to go on the COVID IL now, even as he is asymptomatic. Indeed, every single case so far on the Yankees is a breakthrough case – i.e., someone who was fully vaccinated – but the health and safety protocols are nevertheless in place because of the risk of additional spread.
At an individual level, it really sucks that a player might have to miss significant time after testing positive despite being fully vaccinated. The vaccines are highly effective at preventing infections, but not 100%. So this issue was almost certainly going to come up. I guess at least everyone impacted so far was vaccinated, so the risk of serious illness is just about zero? It is just surprising, at a statistical level, that eight different fully-vaccinated people have all now contracted the virus.
I don’t really have any kind of hard and useful conclusion here, because this is a challenging confluence of vaccination levels and case levels and the country reopening and a close-knit clubhouse … it just sucks that this is still going to happen even after vaccinations. We knew it in theory, and now we see it in practice. And obviously the league has to stick to its protocols. Now we see if the spread has been more significant, and whether it’s going to lead to postponed games.