ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Compared to other teams, the Yankees have mostly been spared the worst of COVID-19 when it comes to outbreaks.
As of Tuesday night, their status among the fortunate was very much up in the air.
Third base coach Phil Nevin, first-base coach Reggie Willits and a third person — an unnamed "support staff member" — have tested positive for COVID-19, the club said in separate announcements several hours apart.
Nevin is under quarantine protocol in nearby Tampa.
ESPN originally reported that five Yankees coaches had tested positive.
Boone said contact tracing and additional testing was continuing Tuesday and could continue. Players and coaches were tested repeatedly over the previous 24 hours.
"We have a few other staff/coaches that are still pending, and we don’t have confirmation on," Boone said, adding later no players were thought to be involved.
Boone said before the game that "a few" other coaches were sent home out of "an abundance of caution just to make sure we’re doing all we can to stay healthy."
The Yankees several weeks ago reached 85% threshold of the club being vaccinated — players, coaches, staff, etc. — that would allow them to relax some of the COVID-19 protocols implemented by Major League Baseball. Among those are mask wearing, something Boone said will be looked at.
"We’ll have to definitely evaluate and make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to prevent things from happening," Boone said. "We have to look at all of that stuff, certainly."
Nevin is among those vaccinated but, according to the CDC, "a small percentage" of those who have been "fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it."
"These are called ‘vaccine breakthrough cases,' " the CDC states on its website. "This means that while people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it may still happen. Experts continue to study how common these cases are. Large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19."
Boone said Sunday night "we started to get some of the news" relating to a potential COVID outbreak "and then a lot of it unfolded" Monday.
Gerrit Cole, slated to start Wednesday night’s game, is, along with injured reliever Zack Britton, the Yankees player representatives to the Major League Baseball Players Association. Though he said conversations never progressed close to postponing Tuesday night’s game, the pitcher acknowledged there was some hesitation among the players regarding playing.
"I think as a whole, we’re looking to press on," Cole said. "[But] different levels of comfortability across the club, so we’re just trying to accommodate that and just kind of stick together as a group and make sure everybody is in a good spot to perform tonight. We felt confident as a group we could do that."
Cole smiled wryly when asked if he had any concerns about what the next day or two could bring given the unpredictability of the virus and how long it can take for it to show up as a positive test.
"I don’t think this is going to be over for a few years," he said. "I think we’re going to have to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. And every time these things come up, we’re going to have to adapt and learn, just as a species. We’re going to take it one step at a time and do the best we can with it."