To the unvaccinated Cubs, unvaccinated Cubs fans, and everybody else in the damn country who’s over the age of 12 and otherwise eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination who hasn’t already been vaccinated:
Get. The. Damn. Shot.
Do it for yourself, your teammates, your family, for the lug next to you in the bleachers. Just do it.
This pandemic hasn’t gone away. And as the virus continues to mutate into new, more transmissible variants, it’s straining ICUs and morgues in communities across the country, most acutely in regions with the lowest vaccination rates.
When Cubs president Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross both tested positive for the virus Friday morning, it was just the latest reminder of all of that, if not a wakeup call.
Both are fully vaccinated, underscoring how transmissible this virus remains, especially with its newer variants. And the fact they both report being asymptomatic as they isolate from the team underscores how effective and important the vaccines are.
And for those on the timeline using these positives as some kind of evidence supporting an anti-vax rationale:
Get. The. Hell. Informed.
“I think everything we see from a research perspective shows that those of us who choose to get vaccinated have a much greater likelihood that we’re asymptomatic or don’t experience any kind of major symptom if we do have a symptom,” said Cubs bench coach Andy Green, the acting manager for the 10 days Ross is expected to be away from the team.
Green’s comments aren’t just the opinion of a baseball coach trying to play a doctor on Zoom.
He’s widely respected as one of the smartest, most educated guys in the clubhouse and, more to the point, is sharing in this case the information the Cubs’ medical staff and outside experts on the subject have shared with the team all year.
The fact is the Cubs still “aren’t close” to reaching baseball’s herd-immunity vaccination threshold of 85 percent for players and other Tier 1 personnel, sources have continued to point out since several unvaccinated players, including Anthony Rizzo, were traded away and released in July.
They’re one of only seven teams in that category. And while it might not impact their season competitively at this point, the team is bracing for the likelihood that multiple unvaccinated players will test positive in the coming days — and crossing their fingers that nobody has a case as severe as pitching coach Tommy Hottovy did last year or even Rizzo did with the Yankees last month.
“I think we wake up every day worried about all that — in the regular world, not just coming here for work,” said Cubs starter Alec Mills, who pitched into the sixth inning of Friday’s 6-5 victory over the Pirates.
“Obviously, you’ve seen what it’s done to us as a country and all around the world. All we can do is just the best we can and take the precautions and be as healthy as we can.”
As an organization, the Cubs have taken steps to mitigate exposure since Friday’s positives by re-emphasizing mask wearing and limiting shared clubhouse time.
As individuals, it’s unclear how many of the unvaccinated players might be compelled to rethink their choices in the wake of the latest news — inside or outside their workplace.
“I think the best message to send right now is Rossy doesn’t feel anything at all. He’s completely fine; he’s totally normal,” Green said. “That tends to be the case with those of us who are vaccinated and made that choice when we do contract it.
“That’s the message for the unvaccinated guys in the clubhouse who have continued to make that choice, and the unvaccinated people throughout the country have have continued to make that choice.”
Since the Pfizer vaccine recently received full FDA approval, the Cubs have joined other MLB teams as well as other private companies across the country in mandating employees be vaccinated (with the exception of players, who are shielded from such mandates by the players union).
One high-profile executive for the Nationals, former big-league catcher Bob Boone, resigned rather than abide by his team’s mandate.
Not exactly heroic. Or especially principled.
According to every credible expert on the subject, this virus is more easily transmitted and more frequently results in more severe reactions than the flu. And it’s deadly.
And according to every credible expert on the subject — as well as more than 100 million examples in this country alone this year — the vaccine works.
It’s not political unless someone chooses to take it there. It’s not inherently left or right.
It’s not even new: Vaccines have been around long enough to have rendered polio and measles into the history books as active threats to average Americans. They’ve been required for admission to public schools for generations.
Not guaranteed. Not perfect.
But a lot more reliable than emotion, conjecture or Facebook.
Just ask the Red Sox. Even in the narrower world of baseball and the pennant races, the Red Sox have become, in the span of barely a week, professional sports’ cautionary tale for what’s at risk even on the field.
Like the Cubs, the Red Sox are one of the seven teams that failed to reach the 85-percent vaccination rate. Unlike the Cubs, the Red Sox are in the heat of a race for a playoff berth.
On Friday, the Sox put outfielder Jarron Duran on the COVID-19 IL because of a positive test, the latest player sidelined in a team outbreak that also includes key players Enrique Hernandez, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Arroyo — among nine players who have gone on the COVID-19 IL during the current outbreak.
Mills said the news Friday morning about Hoyer and Ross prompted a “super diligent” approach to safety precautions.
And whether it makes any unvaccinated teammates rethink their decisions, Mills wasn’t about to speculate.
“I’m vaccinated,” he said. “I’m going to let the science work.”
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