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Two-thirds of Major League Baseball teams reach 85% vaccination rate, relax protocols

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NEW YORK — Two-thirds of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams have been able to relax coronavirus protocols after four additional clubs qualified and raised the total to 20 franchises reaching 85% vaccinations for players and other on-field personnel.

The commissioner’s office and the players’ association said Friday that two additional teams had reached the 85% level of having received final doses and will be able to relax protocols within the next two weeks once they are fully protected by the vaccinations.

Relaxed protocols include dropping the requirements for face masks in dugouts and bullpens and loosening restrictions on mobility during road trips.

MLB said 85.2% of Tier 1 individuals such as players, managers, coaches, trainers and support personnel had been partially or fully vaccinated, up just 0.7 percentage points from the previous week, and 82.9% had been fully vaccinated, up 1.7 percentage points from the previous week.

There were two positive tests — one for a major league player and one for a Triple-A player — among 9,291 tests in the past week, a 0.02% positive rate.

So far this season, there have been 64 positive tests — 36 players, 28 staff — among 185,551 samples tested, a 0.03% positive rate. The positive tests are among 25 teams.

The Chicago Cubs said Friday that they will move to 100% capacity at Wrigley Field starting with a June 11 game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Only the Texas Rangers among the 30 major league teams began this season at 100% after fans weren’t permitted last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlanta Braves went to full capacity on May 7.

Others announcing the move to full capacity in-season have been the Arizona Diamondbacks (May 25), Boston Red Sox (May 29), Baltimore Orioles (June 1), Cincinnati Reds (June 2). Washington Nationals (June 11), Philadelphia Phillies (June 12), St. Louis (June 14), Milwaukee Brewers (June 25) and Minnesota Twins (July 5).

MLB announced a “Vaccinate at the Plate” program in which each of the 30 teams will stage at least one event in June offering a free ticket to anyone getting vaccinated at the ballpark. The commissioner’s officer said that more than 1 million shots had been given at ballparks during the pandemic and that MLB and teams had provided more than 1.5 million PCR tests to schools, youth academies, charities and communities.

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