There may not be New York Yankees baseball on Tuesday night.
This afternoon, news broke that the Bombers were dealing with a “COVID-19 issue” but not much else was entirely clear.
Then a few beat writers were revealing that some players and coaches took to the turf at Tropicana Field wearing masks.
Soon after, it was reported that five coaches on New York’s staff tested positive for the virus and that it’s unknown if the game will take place in Tampa against the Rays. Far later than it should have been clarified, reporters came out following Aaron Boone’s press conference to note that only one “breakthrough” positive has been confirmed, and the rest remain pending. Based on what we know about the vaccine’s efficacy, that breakdown makes more sense.
Out of an abundance of caution, in addition to the new seven-inning rule for doubleheaders, it wouldn’t be surprising if tonight’s game was called off.
How in the world did this happen, especially after the Yankees announced they had crossed the 85% vaccination rate a couple weeks ago?
The Yankees coaching and support staff were actually 100% vaccinated, too. The potential issue here? The organization received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is only 66% effective at preventing COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a 95% efficacy rate.
Nonetheless, all of those vaccines are nearly 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19. Vaccinated people can still be infected with the virus, but they might show mild symptoms or be asymptomatic.
This is how we received the information. Extremely disorienting.
The good news is that early data among those vaccinated has shown asymptomatic patients are less likely to spread the virus, but scientists and doctors will likely need a larger sample size to arrive at a definitive conclusion.
For now, the Yankees will undergo more tests as well as contact tracing. The team announced third base coach Phil Nevin was among those who tested positive.
At this point, nothing is confirmed, but Yankees manager Aaron Boone addressed the media via Zoom moments ago and said that the team expects to play despite the ongoing issues. The Yankees also released their lineup amid this troubling news.
We have to assume the players and staff will be receiving rapid tests to determine if anyone else has been infected. Contradicting the initial information Heyman and Rivera released, though, it appears only Nevin’s positive has been confirmed; the rest of the coaches who won’t be with the team Tuesday are currently contained by contact tracing measures.
For now, we wait. The game isn’t scheduled to begin until 7:10 p.m., so there’s plenty of time for all of this to change, especially if MLB wants to step in and make a decision.