CHICAGO — Cubs president Jed Hoyer says he’s “disappointed” his team isn’t likely to reach the 85% vaccination threshold that leads to reduced COVID-19 regulations.
“It’s disappointing to not be at 85% as a team,” Hoyer said Thursday morning. “We’ve worked hard to try and convince or educate the people that have been reluctant. We’re at a place right now — I’m not going to give up hope we’re going to get there — my level of optimism is waning. It is disappointing.”
About half the teams in Major League Baseball have reached the threshold and qualify for looser restrictions, such as the elimination of mask-wearing and the ability to use shared spaces in clubhouses, indoor and outdoor dining and many other everyday life activities.
“There are conveniences that come with getting to 85% as a group,” Hoyer said. “Mask-wearing, dining and things like that, that we would all like to have.”
And many in baseball believe it’s a competitive advantage to get to 85%. Fewer players are likely to test positive, and it changes the dynamic of contact tracing. Players who are close contacts won’t have to sit out games as they await testing.
“There’s a competitive advantage we’re going to miss,” Hoyer said. “Being transparent about it, we’re not a player away from being at 85%. It’s a disappointing thing that we’ll have anxieties and restrictions that others don’t.”
Hoyer indicated he wouldn’t make personnel decisions based on players refusing to listen to their own team doctors, but he seemed perplexed that in a sport with unavoidable injuries, his team isn’t willing to take all precautions.
“This is one that can be avoided, and we’re not able to avoid it in some ways,” Hoyer said. “It’s a part of the job I never quite imagined, being involved in that kind of education, that kind of convincing.”
Not many players have spoken publicly about their reluctance to be vaccinated, while some have questioned the benefit of getting to 85%.
“I don’t necessarily see that as a competitive advantage or disadvantage,” starter Jake Arrieta said. “We have a lot of guys vaccinated. We have not had any cases in the past month, so we’re doing OK as a group. And we’re being careful about where we go and who we’re around.
Hoyer indicated that many players have been vaccinated, just not enough to loosen restrictions. The Cubs had a COVID-19 outbreak scare last month while prepping for a series in Milwaukee. It took out their starting pitcher and several coaches.
“It’s a pretty horrible feeling, pretty helpless feeling,” Hoyer said of that incident. “The fact that we aren’t able to eliminate that is disappointing. It’s irrefutable that it eliminates risk.”
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