Following the revelation that several colleagues had tested positive for the coronavirus, the employees of the Texas Rangers told ESPN on Friday that they feared for their health and hoped that the organization would allow the employees to work at home after having felt pressure to enter the office.
Amid the flare-up of new coronavirus cases in Texas, Ranger employees were informed on Thursday in an organization-wide email that “several family members of the Texas Rangers tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) ”, according to a copy of the email. obtained by ESPN.
The recognition of the positive tests came 10 days after the team entered a new phase of its reopening during which the employees told ESPN that they were invited to work at Globe Life Field, the new stadium of 1 , $ 2 billion from the team. Although there was never an explicit mandate, several employees told ESPN that their managers had stated that working from home was not an option. Exceptions have been made for some employees.
“We are terrified of our safety,” said an employee who works for the team and requested anonymity for fear of the repercussions of the organization. “Terrified of sharing COVID-19, without knowing it, with an older employee, a pregnant colleague or anyone else who might have some sort of underlying condition. We all knew it would happen. It was only a matter of time. ”
Sources say more than 100 people work in Rangers’ executive offices daily, and more than 200 in total are at the stadium. The Rangers will disinfect their offices over the weekend, offer coronavirus tests to employees Monday and Tuesday, and may reassess their homework policy in the days to come. The team released a statement on Friday acknowledging the positive tests.
“In the past 48 hours, the Texas Rangers have been informed that several of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The Rangers immediately started the protocols we set up for positive COVID tests, and any employee who had contact with these people was sent home and will undergo COVID-19 tests, “said the release. “No individual will be allowed to enter the establishment without having received a negative COVID-19 test.
“The health and safety of our employees is a top priority, and the Rangers will continue to diligently apply the pandemic protocols that are in place for front office workers at Globe Life Field. These include temperature controls at the entrance to the building, mandatory wearing of face blankets, as well as regular sanitation and cleaning of Globe Life Field facilities. ”
While presence at the office was not unambiguously mandatory, the reopening of the Rangers’ offices was accelerated compared to the approach adopted by other teams around baseball in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to sources from the league. Some team offices remain closed. Others have opened their doors to smaller groups of employees. Texas was the first state to announce plans to reopen after a coronavirus locking system was put in place, and in early May some Ranger employees returned to the office.
According to Ranger employees, the managers allowed the employees to coordinate with the other people seated near them to take days off and allow for proper social distancing. Some employees were not wearing masks indoors, they said, which raised initial fears among the employees.
These worsened as more and more people returned to the offices, the employees said. In May, the stadium started hosting high school graduates, and the volume of people entering and leaving the stadium increased. A June 12 Zoom call for employees to return en masse on June 15 raised concerns, but with teams around the baseball cups, no one was willing to speak, according to a Rangers employee.
“I realize – we all know – how lucky we are to have a job right now,” said the employee. “We have not been put on leave. We weren’t fired like some staff from other clubs. We can continue to feed our families. ”
But the positive tests made some more willing to speak out, as did a Zoom call on Friday in which a team-affiliated doctor suggested that employees were more likely to be infected with coronavirus at home than at work. While several employees on the call said that they believed the doctor had spoken badly and intended to tackle the ubiquity of the virus, the blunder resounded inside the chat room. ‘Zoom call, where employees asked for evidence to back up his statement, according to copies of the chat diary. obtained by ESPN.
Just this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said sports teams can authorize up to 50% capacity for the games, representing more than 20,000 people at Globe Life Field. While Major League Baseball intended to start training camps next week and matches on July 23, an employee of Zoom chat wondered how the concept of fans at the stadium was at the center of protecting employees.
“With the increase in cases, how do we plan to have fans here, keeping in mind that we need to keep our staff and players safe and healthy? Asked the employee. “What procedures will be in place if fans are allowed here? “