If Washington Gov. Jay Inslee makes the announcement he's expected to on Wednesday morning, the Seattle Mariners and Major League Baseball are going to have to come up with some inventive alternatives to opening day thanks to coronavirus fears. In a move geared at slowing the spread of the disease, Inslee is expected to issue an executive order restricting gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
The Seattle Times reports the order is aimed explicitly at sporting events and concerts. The Seattle Mariners are located in King County.
Sources told the paper late Tuesday night about the impending press conference though no official confirmation has been given. The governor's office is reportedly attempting to keep backlash to a minimum before he can talk about the details of the plan.
Inslee is able to issue this kind of proclamation because earlier this month he, as well as several other states' governors, declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus. Washington is one of the hardest-hit states in the country. One of the most publicized outbreaks in the state, as The Inquisitr reported earlier, happened at a nursing home where more than 70 people were suspected of having been infected.
Los Angeles Times writer Bill Shaikin was one of the first to put two and two together on Twitter when it came to the expected announcement. He pointed out the Seattle Mariners will open their regular season at home on March 26. It's possible the executive order will be lifted in the next two weeks, but not probable as most health experts expect the rate of infection to get worse in the coming weeks, not better.
It is possible the Mariners could open the season in an empty stadium. Several NCAA basketball conference tournaments announced earlier this week they plan to play but not allow anyone other than the teams and immediate family to attend. Major League Baseball has already taken steps to try to stop the spread of coronavirus as they have closed off all clubhouses to the media. This falls in line with what the NBA and NHL are also doing.
Just how to handle the March 26 opener could eventually be in someone else's hands than the Mariners. There have been rumblings that MLB is looking at pushing back the start of the regular season if the outbreak continues apace. So far, indications are that baseball would like to avoid a delay or cancellation at all costs.