Nationals and Mets MLB Opening Day
Apr 5, 2018; Washingtaon, DC, USA; A general view of the 2018 Opening Day logo on the field prior to the Washington Nationals home opener against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. New York Mets defeated Washington Nationals 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLB season is slated to get going July 23 with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals opening things up. Though, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could change things in a big way.

At least initially, there’s some good news on this front.

A total of 31 players test positive for COVID-19 ahead of MLB season

According to a release from the league, this means that just 1.2% of the 3,185 tests conducted came back positive.

As noted, 31 players tested positive while seven staff members also contracted the virus.

The 1.2% is extremely low in that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that countries can safely open back up again when positive test rates are under 5%.

Though, there’s a lot more that goes into this.

COVID-19 and the 2020 MLB season

The real test will come when players are in close proximity with one another during what is being dubbed Spring Training 2.0.

Teams are already taking to their home venues to prepare for the start of the regular season. The second set of tests coming here soon will be more telling.

What we do know is that multiple MLB teams have already had outbreaks of COVID-19. The good news in this initial report is that 11 teams did not see any individual come back with a positive test.

COVID-19 cases in the United States

The backdrop of Friday’s news is the fact that virus cases are growing at an alarmingly high clip around the United States. It was just on Thursday that nearly 55,000 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the country.

States such as California, Arizona, Texas and Florida have been hit especially hard. Given that those four states boast a combined 33% of teams in MLB, that has to be concerning.