The USA is fast emerging as the worst affected country in the world when it comes to the raging coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 cases have touched the 2.5 million mark in the USA as of this week. Now, Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed that 18 players and six staff members tested positive for COVID-19, in what is a big blow as plans of the MLS restart start to take shape.
An MLS coronavirus announcement confirmed that 18 players, as well as six staff members, tested positive for COVID-19 in Orlando after arriving for the MLS is Back Tournament. The players have been isolated according to the stipulated norms and will be provided professional care by relevant medical professionals until they receive medical clearance from the concerned authorities, MLS said in a statement.
Under the MLS restart plan, 668 players have been administered the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests since June 4. The MLS restart plan aims to resume the competition from July 8, prior to which tests have been conducted on a massive scale. Since the clubs have returned to training since the suspension in March due to the coronavirus USA crisis, players are expected to pass two PCR tests within a space of 24 hours followed by two additional tests every day.
Before departing for Orlando for the MLS restart, all personnel attending the tournament were expected to pass two PCR tests. Upon arrival, every person was tested again and put under mandatory quarantine until reports hinted at a negative result. According to reports in the USA, as of now, 329 players and staff have arrived at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, of which 18 players tested positive for COVID-19.
The top league authority has confirmed that it will provide MLS coronavirus testing details on a regular basis. Meanwhile, some clubs have ensured transparency regarding the health of their players, although others have declined to follow suit. On Sunday, The Athletic reported that Orlando City had at least one player testing positive.
Ahead of the MLS restart, commissioner Don Garber has reportedly asserted that he remains confident of the plan to resume the competition safely despite the MLS coronavirus threat. The MLS restart is scheduled for July 8, with 26 teams participating in the competition. A total of 54 matches will be played, ensuring regular-season points along with a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.