MLB medical director pleased by low positive rate

July 10th, 2020

Dr. Gary Green, the medical director for Major League Baseball, said Thursday on MLB Network that he is encouraged by MLB’s COVID-19 testing results so far.

MLB and the MLB Players Association jointly announced Friday that there have been 83 positive tests -- 71 players and 12 staff members -- which is 0.7% of the 11,149 samples since the beginning of intake screening on June 27.

As part of the monitoring testing phase, players are being tested every other day, while other staff members are being tested multiple times per week. The positive rate since the monitoring testing phase has begun is 0.2%, down from 1.8% during intake screening.

“It means that most of our players and staff did conform to social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding high-risk situations,” Green said. “I’m actually kind of pleased that it’s as low as that. As you know, nationally, the testing positive rate is much higher. So I think we’ve done a good job educating our players.

“You’re seeing teams now having team meetings where players are now enforcing that and getting everybody’s buy-in to make sure that they comply, not only while they are at the ballpark, but when they’re outside the park, and making sure that they take precautions to really give us the best possible chance we can of completing this season.”

Green stressed that testing is only one part of the overall process to keep everyone safe.

“I would consider testing as the icing on the cake,” Green said. “It’s kind of your final exam to see if all of the other procedures that we’ve put in place [are working, including] symptom checks before they get to the ballpark, particular attention to hygiene and sanitation in the ballpark -- social distancing, use of masks and cleaning -- and then what they do after they leave the ballpark.”

Green is also confident that the logistics of the program will run smoothly. A handful of teams opted to suspend workouts earlier this week after testing results were delayed.

“We had a big challenge initially, because we had to do everybody’s intake exam in order to let them enter the ballpark, and what happened was teams started reporting a little early, and then we started having to do the [monitoring] testing,” Green said. “So we were caught in the middle of having to do intake testing and then also do the [monitoring] testing. And unfortunately, we also had the July Fourth weekend, which delayed some of the samples being shipped.

“We’ve overcome that now. Almost all of the samples now, if they’re received the next morning, they’re done by the end of that day. I think now that we’re doing about 2,000 tests a day, we’re going to be in a much better position for that.”