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Dodgers Player Justin Turner Gets Positive Covid-19 Test Result During Final Game Of MLB World Series

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in their 6th game against the Tampa Bay Rays for the 7th time in their history and the first time since 1988. But in true 2020 style, the finals were sadly not free of coronavirus.

Dodgers infielder Justin Turner was mysteriously pulled from the game in the 8th inning for what later turned out to be a positive Covid-19 test result. The news was reportedly first broken by Fox news and shortly thereafter, posted by the LA Times. It was later revealed that Turner’s test from yesterday was inconclusive, but the test taken today came up positive, with the league then telling the Dodgers to remove Turner from the game.

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However a later update suggested that the test yesterday was positive too. Regardless of this no-doubt soon to be gigantic controversy, he’s positive. Major League Baseball was struck by several team outbreaks early on in the pandemic shortened season, but hadn’t had a positive test for almost two months. Over 173,000 tests were done on players and staff with 92 positives, 58 players now including Turner and 34 staff members. 21 different teams reported at least one positive test throughout the season.

A “soft” bubble was in place for the finals but it isn’t entirely clear what precautions were taken, although the CDC published a table of Covid-19 mitigation strategies adopted by MLB at the start of the season. How Turner got the virus is currently unknown and perhaps will remain that way, but valid concern has been raised about whether the virus may have already spread to his team-mates as well as staff and spectators at the stadium.

But how likely is any of this?

Firstly, although much of the season was played behind “closed doors” with no spectators, the world series finals were held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas with up to 11,500 fans in attendance in the stadium. The venue normally has a capacity in excess of 40,000 and fans were seen to be distributed evenly around the grounds, presumably to promote physical distancing. Considering baseball players rarely come anywhere near spectators, especially third basemen – its safe to say the risk of this is extremely slim and probably significantly smaller than spectators giving each other Covid-19.

But what about the other players and staff on the field and in the dugouts?

Remarkably, there has already been a scientific study done looking at this, using data from earlier on in the season when the league experienced some large Covid-19 outbreaks. The research done by the CDC looked at the outbreak among the Miami Marlins, featuring 20 players and team members. The study tracked when and where each individual was likely to have been infected and also looked at the other teams the Marlins interacted with before they had to temporarily stop playing due to the outbreak.

The positive news for Rays players is that despite 146 MLB employees being exposed in the time before they paused playing, the Marlins infected only one individual from one of the two other teams they played. This individual was not a player, but did have close contact with the Marlins and may, for example, been someone involved in club house operations or travel. No other Covid-19 outbreaks in teams were found to have spread to opposing MLB team members.

The research also concluded:

“The lack of evidence for on-field transmission, as demonstrated by the absence of infections among opposing on-field team players and staff members, pointed to indoor exposures as the likely means of SARS-CoV-2 spread.”

It is far from certain that Turner has transmitted the virus to anyone else – bearing in mind a positive Covid-19 test does not guarantee someone is infectious. But those at greatest risk of getting the coronavirus from Turner are anyone who has spent time with him in an indoor, confined environment – likely to be his teammates, coaches and other crucial Dodgers staff.

So, it is possible that the celebrations and any subsequent parade might need to be delayed somewhat until all members of the team get a series of negative tests to ensure they are all healthy and not at risk of passing on the coronavirus.

Source: Forbes – Business

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