Following the COVID-19 outbreak that's put a halt to the Miami Marlins' season, MLB is reportedly requiring teams to add a COVID-19 protocol compliance officer to its traveling party, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
The league is also encouraging players to not leave their team hotels during road trips, and will mandate the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks during travel.
These new rules were reportedly sent by commissioner Rob Manfred to teams in a memo on Tuesday. They come as a response to the lack of explicit guidelines in the league's original 113-page protocol detailing how teams should handle a coronavirus outbreak.
Passan reports that the decision not to include specific guidelines was intentional on the part of MLB, favoring flexibility in how to proceed should an outbreak occur. The Marlins' outbreak has forced the league's hand, bringing about significant change to its protocol less than a week into the 2020 season.
The testing process is not expected to be changed. Currently, players are tested every other day using a saliva sample. Samples are processed within 36 hours at a lab in Utah. That lag in receiving test results is unlikely to change, per Passan, and could present problems in the event of another outbreak.
Another issue is the prevalence of players high-fiving, spitting and otherwise coming into close contact with each other during games. Though the league won't mandate players to quarantine on the road, they'll be highly discouraged to venture out of their rooms, even to hotel common areas. Team compliance officers will assign seating charts for bus rides, be granted Tier 1 credential status, monitor hotels and submit reports on team activity.