The Phillies And Tampa Bay Lightning Both Closed Their Florida Facilities After Positive COVID-19 Tests

Florida continues to be a coronavirus hot spot, which is very bad news for all the sports leagues that want to resume activities there. The number of positive cases continue to rise, and the percentage of those tested coming back positive remains alarmingly high as reports circulate that some hospitals are near or are already at capacity in their respective intensive care units.

This is bad news for everyone, especially the people of Florida. And though the NBA and MLS have not officially started their bubble leagues in Orlando, which are slated to start in July, another league has had a rash of COVID-19 outbreaks at at least one Florida facility. While Major League Baseball is in a protracted fight with its players association about a potential season, some players have started to train for what would be a significantly shorter campaign than in most years. But the Philadelphia Phillies facility in Clearwater, Florida recently saw a coronavirus outbreak where at least five players have tested positive for COVID-19.

As Matt Gelb of The Athletic laid out, the team is administering contract tracing but still doesn’t know exactly how many cases it has, as testing results are still pending.

The Phillies are in the process of determining the size of an outbreak at their Clearwater, Fla., training complex after a positive test for COVID-19 earlier in the week prompted the club to close its facility. While eight of the 16 people tested have been positive for the virus, according to the team, the true extent of the outbreak is unknown because 32 players and staff members are awaiting test results.

The Toronto Blue Jays, which have a facility in nearby Dunedin, abruptly shut that down on Friday as well after a player displayed COVID-19 symptoms.

Meanwhile, another Florida team shut down its facility on Friday because of coronavirus as well. ESPN reported that the Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facility after “several” players and staff tested positive for COVID-19. It’s troubling news in the sports world because of the unknown long-term impact of COVID-19 on athletes as well as their immediate health, but also bad news for leagues pinning their hopes on restarting sports this summer. Whether teams are hoping to play in Florida or elsewhere, right now it’s a dangerous place to attempt a return to business as normal.