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Monday, July 06, 2020

Covid-19 test delays impacting multiple teams

Alex Coffey of The Athletic reported overnight that the Oakland Athletics have yet to have a full squad workout because of COVID-19 test delays. They were supposed to begin such workouts yesterday, but delayed them until today. They have since been delayed again until tonight, and even those may not happen.

Why? Because the initial team tests that are required before allowing the team’s full complement of players and coaches into the facility had not even arrived at MLB’s testing center in Utah as of last night. Indeed, they sat in the San Francisco airport all weekend because no one with MLB or the league’s testing company bothered to account for the Fourth of July holiday and expedite shipping.

Coffey obtained the text message Athletics’ GM David Forst sent to the entire club about the COVID-19 test delays. And, frankly, it’s gobsmacking.

The upshot, as Forst explains in the text, is that the test samples which were collected on Friday and which were due to be in Salt Lake City on Saturday sat at the San Francisco airport because of the July 4 holiday. Which, OK, fine, in which case someone should have changed the shipping instructions for Sunday delivery rather than have it just wait around until Monday like any other package. But no one bothered to do that.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 06, 2020 at 09:37 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: coronavirus

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   1. JRVJ Posted: July 06, 2020 at 11:17 AM (#5961269)
Personally, it never made that much sense to me to have one lab in Salt Lake City for all this, as the majority of MLB teams are to the east of the Mississippi.

However, it seems like the A's and Giants were affected by a completely different set of issues (one would have thought that personal couriers could have been used in this case. Somebody flubbed this badly, be it at FED EX or at MLB or both).

   2. JJ1986 Posted: July 06, 2020 at 11:21 AM (#5961271)
This does not inspire confidence.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 06, 2020 at 11:31 AM (#5961275)
A's, Angels, Astros, Nats have all cancelled today's workouts due to delayed testing, Cards have delayed their workout.
   4. Jack Sommers Posted: July 06, 2020 at 11:36 AM (#5961278)
Markakis opted out today too.

   5. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 06, 2020 at 11:40 AM (#5961282)
Same courier as Ryan Braun's sample?
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 06, 2020 at 11:40 AM (#5961283)
Re: testing difficulties...

One baseball source called me late last week and described entire testing process as a gigantic mess. Said players were concerned over large amount of false positives and that some were starting to seek independent tests away from team facilities.
   7. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 06, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5961291)
Said players were concerned over large amount of false positives

Is that a thing? I would have guessed that false negatives were more likely (and also potentially more problematic as false negatives will leave infected people circulating in the population; with false positives, it kind of sucks for the guy who has to isolate for no reason, but doesn't really affect anybody else) but I could well be wrong about that.
   8. JJ1986 Posted: July 06, 2020 at 12:26 PM (#5961296)
I would hope they're testing anyone with a positive result again quickly and I don't think you're likely to get two false positives in a row.
   9. Karl from NY Posted: July 06, 2020 at 02:54 PM (#5961308)
A thought: The owners may well be happy to go as slow as they can manage. They don't really mind if the season doesn't happen, as long as they can avoid negative public opinion hurting next year.
   10. bunyon Posted: July 06, 2020 at 03:27 PM (#5961313)
False positives are very much a thing and they make the whole enterprise difficult. Moreover, with a false positive rate as high as 5% (for some tests and going on numbers from back in early May), unless the sample size is truly enormous, you can't really have any confidence in a result.

I looked but couldn't locate the article I got that all from. It was a mathematical analysis of testing from, as I say, a couple of months back.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2020 at 03:29 PM (#5961314)
Moreover, with a false positive rate as high as 5% (for some tests and going on numbers from back in early May), unless the sample size is truly enormous, you can't really have any confidence in a result.
Can't you have...95% confidence in a result? That seems like a pretty good amount of confidence.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 06, 2020 at 03:31 PM (#5961316)
MLB statement

“As of today, more than 95% of the tests under the Intake Screening period have been conducted, analyzed and shared with all 30 Clubs. All of the individuals among the 95% have now moved on to the phase that will test them every other day. The remaining number of outstanding tests are expected to be completed today.

“Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend. The vast majority of those deliveries occurred without incident and allowed the protocols to function as planned. Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays. We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence. We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts.

“We appreciate the great cooperation from the players as well as the hard work of the Clubs and many internal and external staff members under these challenging circumstances. The process has not been without some unforeseen difficulties, which are being addressed with the service providers that are essential to the execution of the protocols. It is important to be mindful that nearly all of the individuals have been tested as planned. The health and safety of our players and employees will remain our highest priorities.”

Following are other notes about the testing process:

• MLB collected 3,740 Intake Screening samples during the seven-day period between June 27th and July 3rd, representing all 30 Clubs. As of the end of Sunday, July 5th, the Utah laboratory had reported results for 98% (3,654/3,740) of these samples. The majority of these samples were reported the day after the sample collections occurred.

• 86 results of these samples (2%) remained pending as of this morning. We anticipate that the lab will report the remainder of these pending results this afternoon.

• Pursuant to the Operations Manual, MLB and the MLBPA shifted from intake testing to regular asymptomatic monitoring as of July 3rd, and will now be on an every-other-day testing schedule for all players and Tier 1 staff until the end of the 2020 World Series. Due to the holiday weekend, the Joint Committee advised CDT to test all Clubs one time between July 3rd and July 5th, and to begin the every-other-day schedule on July 6th.

• The Utah laboratory is conducting a level of analysis and turnaround time that is unprecedented in COVID testing, including providing an extra layer of confirmation for all positive test results to rule out false positive concerns. The laboratory is operating on a seven-day-a-week schedule from July 5th through the end of the World Series.
   13. For the Turnstiles (andeux) Posted: July 06, 2020 at 04:30 PM (#5961327)
Can't you have...95% confidence in a result?

No. This is a standard example in statistics: if you have (e.g.) a 5% false positive rate and only 1% of the population is infected, then for any given positive test there is roughly a 5/6 chance that it is a false positive, and only 1/6 that the person is truly infected.

However, these tests can't be that bad, given the previous announcement that only about 1% of tests had come back positive.
   14. Karl from NY Posted: July 06, 2020 at 04:43 PM (#5961332)
Do we know anything about the cause of the false positives? Contamination of the test materials? Other viruses? Viral RNA still detectable from an older infection but that is no longer contagious?
   15. Ron J Posted: July 06, 2020 at 08:28 PM (#5961372)
#14 On the early tests it was dead lung cells that were causing multiple positive tests. Don't know if they've solved that issue yet.

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