MLB is recommending players not sign autographs with fan-provided items and not shake hands with fans, as the sport implements measures designed to lessen the potential impact of the coronavirus in spring training.
This announcement above from FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches lays out what all MLB teams are expected to do from this point on in spring training, as public concern about the coronavirus increases, as well as the reported number of cases. In Florida, for example, a woman died Friday in Lee County, where the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins train, due to the COVID-19 virus, and the Pittsburgh Pirates commissioned a deep cleaning at LECOM Park at the beginning of the week after a confirmed coronavirus case in Manatee County. Today Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee to “Level 2” to coordinate response to the outbreak. This is regarded as an intermediate-level response.
However, to put these numbers in proportion, there have been two recent Florida fatalities due to the COVID-19 virus, and both were diagnosed after international travel. All in all, there have been eight confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Florida and five in Arizona, though there’s been a very limited number of tests completed.
You can expect similar measures to be implemented when the regular season starts at the end of the month: despite some optimism from President Donald Trump, the spread of the virus is unlikely to be abated in such a short amount of time. In fact, MLB has already begun reevaluating its London series in the face of the spread of the coronavirus.