Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner returned to the Globe Life Field diamond Tuesday night to join his team’s World Series celebration despite testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the evening.
He at first emerged wearing a mask but removed the face covering during a team photo. He was pulled in the eighth inning of Game 6 after Los Angeles learned of his test result.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Turner’s tests weren’t a case of a false positive, with consecutive tests returning positive for the Dodgers infielder. MLB moved into a bubble for the later stages of its postseason to mitigate the spread and prevent players from catching the virus from unknown outside influences.
More than seven months after the COVID-19 pandemic first exploded through the U.S. at a pace that caused nationwide shutdowns, the rate of infection has actually increased. There were more than 74,000 new cases reported Monday, according to The New York Times, and the total U.S. death count surpassed 226,000.
Sports leagues have mostly tried to be vigilant about containing the coronavirus, at least when operating in public. The NFL, for example, has levied significant penalties toward coaches who haven’t followed mask protocol. Part of the reason pro sports have taken this approach is to set a public example for proper behavior — nonchalance by players and coaches on national TV would theoretically influence public attitude toward a still-raging disease.
The sight of Turner on the field, then, surprised viewers used to leagues being more cautious than letting a COVID-19 positive player mingle with teammates, coaches and media members.