MLS confirms 26 more coronavirus cases ahead of MLS is Back Tournament
MLS announced an update on the results of its screening for the coronavirus, with two dozen people recording positive tests prior to traveling to Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament, and another two testing positive after arriving in central Florida.
In terms of testing prior to heading to Florida, MLS said Sunday that 18 players and six staff members have received positive tests.
Overall, 668 players have been tested since the start of full-team training on June 4. That translates to a positive test rate of 2.7%, which compares favorably to the 5.3% positive rate that the NBA recorded for its most recent round of testing of players.
MLS added that 329 people have been tested for COVID-19 after arriving in Florida, with two players testing positive. A league spokesperson declined to identify the players who tested positive or their teams. So far, five teams are in Orlando: the San Jose Earthquakes, Orlando City SC, Minnesota United, Columbus Crew SC and FC Dallas.
Most MLS teams returned to full training in early June, so long as it didn't conflict with local COVID-19 restrictions. Players and staff were subject to two initial polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests -- which is one of the the most commonly used methods -- within approximately 72 hours prior to the start of training. Players and staff were tested every other day thereafter.
Prior to traveling to Orlando, all players, coaches, referees, club personnel and league staff are required to complete an additional two PCR tests 24 hours apart and within approximately 72 hours of travel. Upon arrival in Florida, all individuals are required to immediately take another PCR test and are quarantined until they receive the results of that test.
A league spokesperson said that any individual who was in close contact with the two players who tested positive would be isolated but did not provide an exact number of those individuals. The spokesperson added that there are no plans to delay or cancel the tournament at this point.
"MLS is working in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and Osceola County, to identify any close contacts," the league said in a statement.
"Close contacts will also receive follow-up PCR testing and may be restricted from participating in group meals and recreational activities until cleared."
Teams began arriving in Florida for the MLS is Back Tournament on Wednesday, with the first matches set to take place July 8. The teams' arrival comes as the entire state of Florida is experiencing a significant spike in positive tests, with central Florida no exception.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Orange County has had at least a 15.9% positive test rate over the past five days for which data was announced, with a total of 4,128 new positive case recorded in that time. Orange County is home to much of Walt Disney World Resort, including the Swan and Dolphin hotels, where teams and MLS staff are staying.
In neighboring Osceola County, where the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is located, cases and positive test rates also have been increasing. Over the past five days, a total of 687 new positive cases have been recorded, with the positive test rate ranging from 9.3% to 22.7%.