Erie County leaders held a conference call Thursday with representatives of the Buffalo Bisons, Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball to discuss ground rules for when Buffalo is scheduled to begin serving as the Blue Jays' temporary home. That meeting left local leaders feeling good about the measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Buffalo. But then a short while later, the Jays announced their weekend games were postponed.
The Blue Jays announced late Thursday afternoon their weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies, August 1 and 2, will be postponed "out of an abundance of caution," after members of the Phillies roster were reported to test positive for COVID-19.
Discussed in Thursday's conference call, according to county officials, were steps including when teams travel to Buffalo, hotel accommodations, movement to and from Sahlen Field, and departure from the city. The Blue Jays are scheduled to host their first home game in Buffalo August 11.
While in Buffalo, both teams will be confined to their hotel rooms with the exception of meals and transportation to and from Sahlen Field. Major League Baseball has also agreed, according to county leaders, that teams will be subject to the New York State Department of Health's “Interim Guidance for Professional Sports Teams Traveling Between States with Significant Community Spread of COVID-19 and New York State.” MLB officials have also reportedly agreed to honor any additional orders issued by the county, and will share all health and safety information upon the county's request.
"Based on our conversation and the protocols put in place, it is apparent to me Major League Baseball is taking extremely seriously the safety of all, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak occurred with the Miami Marlins," said County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "They sincerely heard our concerns and agreed to every request we made, including adherence by all teams to my future issuance of an executive order regarding team travel and hotel stays to and from our region, and working with the Health Department to ensure the safety of all."
The Marlins, the Blue Jays' first scheduled opponent in Buffalo, have experienced more than a dozen players testing positive for COVID-19. Their schedule remains postponed through the remainder of the week.
The Phillies played the Marlins as news first broke the latter's positive cases. As of Thursday, 19 players and coaches on the Miami roster tested positive for COVID.