Yankees’ Gleyber Torres tests positive for COVID-19; team up to eight cases and CDC will look into outbreak

The New York Yankees have had eight members of their traveling party test positive for COVID-19, the team announced. Third base coach Phil Nevin, first base coach Reggie Willits, pitching coach Matt Blake, and four support staffers were among the positives earlier this week. On Thursday, the team announced infielder Gleyber Torres has tested positive as well.

As with the other seven positive cases, Torres had been fully vaccinated, and in fact he had previously contracted COVID-19 this past December. Here is the team’s statement:

“The Yankees can today confirm that INF Gleyber Torres has received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. He was fully vaccinated and previously had COVID-19 during the most recent baseball offseason … Torres is the eighth Yankees player, coach or traveling staff member to test positive this week. All of the positives are breakthrough positives, occurring with individuals who were fully vaccinated.

Major League Baseball, its medical experts and the New York State Department of Health are currently advising and assisting the Yankees, who continue to undergo additional testing and contact tracing.”

Nevin reportedly showed mild symptoms and the other seven were asymptomatic. Torres was held out of Wednesday’s lineup as MLB‘s joint committee reviewed his testing results. The positive tests come after the Yankees achieved the 85 percent vaccination threshold for relaxed health and safety protocols.

“The one positive for us is that today was the first day with no new cases,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including ESPN’s Marly Rivera, on Thursday. “That is the first time that has happened since we had the first case. So hopefully that is good news.”

The high rate of breakthrough positives — the official term for positive tests after being vaccinated — has led to the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention looking into the Yankees’ situation. Here’s what CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told ABC 7:

“With regard to the Yankees, we obviously need to learn more about that situation,” she said. “My understanding is that six of the seven reports, six of the seven infections were indeed asymptomatic infections. And we will look to more data from that report to understand what happened there. All of the real world data we’ve seen that’s been in the published literature, large studies, in many different settings, have demonstrated that those vaccines are effective, have a high effectiveness against disease.”  

The Yankees received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination last month. Because they met the 85 percent threshold, vaccinated individuals were no longer required to have to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact to someone who tests positive, unless they have symptoms. Those protocols are being reviewed amid the outbreak, however.

David Samson broke down the Yankees’ COVID issues on Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:

Part of the incentive from Major League Baseball for achieving at least 85 percent vaccinated for a team’s “Tier 1” individuals include the relaxing of the COVID-19 restriction; individuals will not have to wear masks in the dugout or bullpen, will no longer be required to wear the league’s COVID-19 tracing program’s tracking devices and are allowed to gather for activities in the clubhouse, team bus/plane. “Tier 1” includes the team’s traveling party, or players, coaches, trainers, and other assorted staff. For teams that reach the 85-percent vaccinated mark, they also are given the option to be exempt from the league’s twice weekly testing.

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