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St. Louis Cardinals’ Coronavirus Case Count Reaches 13; Series In Detroit Postponed

The St. Louis Cardinals have had 13 members of their traveling party — seven players and six staff members — test positive for COVID-19, Major League Baseball and the team announced Monday. As a result, this week’s four game series in Detroit, which already had featured one postponed game, one double header, and two games moved out of St. Louis, has been postponed entirely.

All 13 members of the traveling party who have had confirmed positive tests have requested that their identities not be revealed, as is their right under MLB rules, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said. Five of those individuals are asymptomatic and eight have suffered from mild symptoms such as headaches and coughs. None have required hospitalization, and each of those who has tested positive has since returned to his home via cars rented through a contactless rental and retrieval service.

Further reports on Monday from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register said that St. Louis’s scheduled Aug. 13 matchup with the Chicago White Sox at the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville, Iowa has been canceled.

When asked if he had received word on the status of that game, Mozeliak said, “I have not heard anything on that game, no.”

The 44 members of the Cardinals traveling party who have not tested positive remain in Milwaukee as they undergo daily testing and are set to resume their schedule Friday, at home, against the Chicago Cubs. That date would represent nine days since their most recent game, a 3-0 loss in Minnesota to the Twins last Wednesday.

That timeline would match up with that of the Miami Marlins, who had 18 confirmed infections among their traveling party in Philadelphia. They ceased play after their game on Sunday, July 26th, and are set to resume on Tuesday.

As the Marlins plan to return to play, Mozeliak acknowledged that they serve as some degree of proof of concept that a team which has had its season upended by the coronavirus could get back to the field and, ultimately, remain competitive.

“Once you stop having people test positive, you can take that step forward,” Mozeliak said. “Now it doesn’t change the risk of what the season might look like, but your hope is we can get back to baseball, and everybody that’s sitting up here right now, that’s their goal.”

Mozeliak also pushed back against rumors circulating on social media that Cardinals players had recently been in a casino, perhaps contributing to the introduction of the virus to the team environment.

“I have no factual reason to believe that is true,” Mozeliak said. “And I have not seen any proof of that. If someone was at a casino, though, that would be disappointing.”

Indeed, as he has throughout the stoppage in play, Mozeliak drew parallels between baseball’s challenges and those of society as a whole. There are clear struggles when it comes to limiting the spread of a highly contagious virus while still attempting to maintain a semblance of normalcy and also attempting to identify a firm source point of the team-wide infection.

“It’s almost impossible to say that we can build a dome around ourselves and move from city to city, move from our home to the ballpark,” Mozeliak conceded. “I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve stopped to put gas in my car. My wife’s called me and said, ‘hey, can you grab something at the grocery store?’ I’ve done that. I feel like what you guys are asking for is something that I just can’t give.”

The request, from the media as well as from those around the game and in broader society, is for an explanation where none is immediately evident. “I think we could guess, but we don’t have it for sure,” said Mozeliak, by way of identifying a potential initiating event.

The team hopes to leave Milwaukee by charter plane on Wednesday morning, returning to Busch Stadium for a light workout and more intense activity on Thursday before resuming play on Friday. In order to travel, the full traveling party must show two consecutive negative tests.

Those who remain with the team will be joined by both players and staff from the club’s alternate training site in Springfield, Missouri. Mozeliak said the roster will “look a little different” when the club next takes the field, and isolated the challenge of replacing those staffers in Springfield who come to St. Louis with additional employees who will first have to clear MLB’s intake testing.

“We’ve begun a plan for that,” Mozeliak said, “and hopefully all goes well over the next 48 hours and we’ll have a very seamless transition.”

The Cardinals will review all aspects of their traveling and containment plans, but are confident that the team’s initial infection took place in St. Louis and lay dormant until it was revealed in testing conducted in Minnesota last Wednesday. It is confidence in those plans and procedures which gives them hope that the season will be able to resume in some fashion resembling normalcy.

“I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently on the road,” Mozeliak said. “I’m very confident that this originated in St. Louis. And the timing of the tests dictated that we happened to be on the road. I don’t know what we could do differently other than not put somebody that’s infected on our plane.”

Jeff Jones is a contributor to the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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