New York Yankees: Learning more about the Yankees’ Covid outbreak

The New York Yankees have been the center of attention in and out of the baseball world as they deal with eight cases of “breakthrough” Covid 19. Breakthrough cases are rare but more common among fully vaccinated individuals in congregate situations. What is so unusual about the Yankee situation is that it spread from one to eight staff in just four days. Yesterday was the first day since the traveling party arrived in Tampa, Florida, that the Yankees did not report a new case.

Here is what we’ve learned:

  • The New York Yankees arrived in Tampa on Sunday night to prepare the 3 games set against the Rays. Shortly after arriving it was discovered that third base coach Phil Nevin had contracted the virus.
  • On Monday, the first base coach Reggie Willits and four support staff also tested positive for Covid 19. Willits was replaced by the player development coach in Monday night’s game, and bench coach Carlos Mendoza replaced Nevin.
  • Yankee shortstop Glyber Torres played in Monday night’s game at Tropicana Field.
  • Aaron Boone gave a possible scenario that could have caused the spread. He suggested that it could have been caused by the two and half hour rain delay during the last series at Yankee Stadium. Players in the wait, he expansive space to spread out in the clubhouse. Support staff did not have that luxury.
  • Tuesday, it was reported that pitching coach Matt Blake had been tested positive for the disease. Gleyber Torres was held out of Tuesday’s game in “an abundance of caution.”
  • It was also announced that of the seven then infected that 6 in the party were asymptomatic. (infected but not feeling any symptoms).
  • Wednesday’s game had Torres off the lineup again due to waiting for tests to be completed. It was announced on Thursday morning that Torres did, in fact, test positive for Covid.
  • We learned that all the infected parties were giving the J&J vaccine on April 7th.
  • Today it was announced that all infected parties had remained quarantined in Tampa as the Yankee flew to Baltimore for a three-game set at Camden Yards.
  • The remaining staff left in Tampa would remain at the team hotel or those who have offseason homes, at their homes in the area.
  • Yankee general manager Brian Cashman announced that Gleyber Torres was on the 10 day Covid IL. He also added that he didn’t know when he could come off, but it could be as soon as he remains asymptomatic and tests negative three days in a row.

First, it’s important to know what a “breakthrough case is. It’s when a person has been fully vaccinated (1 shot of the J&J or 2 shots of the Pfizer or Maderna) and has passed the two-week mark for full protection and then contracts the Covid 19 virus. These cases are extremely rare. There have only been 9,220 cases among 92 million that were fully vaccinated. Of those, there were 835 hospitalizations and 132 deaths.

General manager Cashman said:

Everyone in the Yankees’ traveling party of 50 to 60 people is being tested three times a day using polymerase chain reaction, saliva and rapid tests. Thursday was the first day of no new positive test results since the outbreak began, Cashman said. “Maybe it’s slowing down,” he said.

“I believe the variant that we’re dealing with has been pretty aggressive,” Cashman said, without identifying the variant.

The New York Yankees were the first team to reach an 85% vaccination rate, and at this point, several of the health protocols were relaxed per an agreement with MLB and the players union. Some of those related rules are that those in the dugout would no longer be mandated to wear masks, players could sit in the sauna together, with several other restrictions being lifted.

Some players at taking this situation with more intensity than others. A good example is that Jameson Taillon, who normally works out before a start in the weight room, chose to do his workouts masked far out in the right field at Tropicana Field. Last night he did not have that luxury when he joined about 50 others in the traveling party when they boarded their Delta flight to Baltimore. It is assumed they were all masked and keeping as much distance from each other as possible.

The New York Yankees, MLB, the New York Board of Health, and the CDC alike are watching the Yankees’ situation closely to see what they can learn moving forward. As of this writing, there are no plans to change the Yankee schedule in Baltimore. After the Baltimore series, the Yankees are scheduled to have a 4 game set at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers. It will be the first time they will play in a 100% occupancy park since 2019.



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