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Florida lockdown could delay MLB's restart date even further

George M. Steinbrenner Field is seen Friday March

George M. Steinbrenner Field is seen Friday March 13, 2020 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: AP/Carlos Osorio

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement Monday that he plans to sign an executive order decreeing that residents in four population-heavy Southeast Florida counties stay home through the middle of May won’t directly impact the Yankees.

Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, where the Yankees train, established its own safer-at-home order last week.

During a conference call last Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone estimated that about 10 players still were working out at Steinbrenner Field on a limited basis (and not all at once). Indications are they will continue to be able to do so as long as social-distancing protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control continue to be followed.

But there are bigger-picture ramifications of DeSantis’ order.

Four major-league teams — the Astros, Cardinals, Marlins and Nationals — train in Palm Beach County, one of the four affected counties in the order. The other counties are Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe (the Marlins, of course, play their regular-season home games in Miami-Dade).

The specifics of DeSantis’ order were not immediately released, but the order for Hillsborough County allows “nonessential activities, so long as social distancing and other CDC Public Healthy Mitigation Strategies requirements are followed.”

Among those are prohibitions against organized activities of groups of 10 or more. And, of course, the average big-league camp has far more players (and staff) participating than that.

Some inside MLB still are holding on to June 1 as a possible re-start date, but that is becoming increasingly unlikely.

Even if camps were given the go-ahead to open by mid-May — which seems unlikely, given the ever-increasing spread of the virus in Florida and just about everywhere else in the country — in order to start any kind of regular season by June 1, it would mean only a two-week spring training, which is unrealistic.

“We have all four counties united in a common purpose,” DeSantis said Monday. “People from South Florida know it’s not always easy to do. But we’re all here today to say that we want to win the fight against COVID-19. And so what I’m going to be doing is signing an executive order that codifies a common set of rules regarding safer at home for Southeast Florida. This will build off what Mayor [Carlos] Jimenez [of Miami-Dade County] has already done and gets all four counties operating under the same sheet of music. And the reason why this is important is because we have 60 percent of the cases in the state of Florida in Southeast Florida.”

According to nbcmiami.com, Miami-Dade and Broward counties account for 2,737 of the state’s 5,473 cases confirmed by Monday. Of the state’s 63 deaths attributed to the virus, 11 were in Broward, three in Miami-Dade.

According to WFLA in Tampa, there were 253 cases in Hillsborough County as of Monday morning.

Two Yankees minor-leaguers tested positive within a three-day stretch starting March 14. But after a self-quarantine that lasted just over two weeks for the roughly 150 minor-leaguers and most of the staff, no additional tests were deemed necessary as of Monday and the majority of those quarantined were cleared to go home.

The minor-league complex reopened late last week, but general manager Brian Cashman said most of the staff will continue to work “remotely” and the limited number of those working “will practice social distancing.”

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