Here's what has to happen before Cardinals players who tested positive for COVID can return

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The St. Louis Cardinals have the eyes of the baseball world on them right now, after 13 people (seven players and six staff members) on the team's travel party tested positive for COVID-19. Only the Miami Marlins have reported more cases to this point in the shortened season. 

Six of those players allowed their names to be released by the team: Catcher Yadier Molina, infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa, and Rangel Ravelo, and pitchers Junior Fernández and Kodi Whitley.

The players who tested positive are now placed on the COVID-19 Related Injured List – which is different from the MLB's injury list because there's no set minimum days the player must stay on the list (i.e. 10-day or 60-day). They'll be on the list until they prove their health to team doctors and pass a few other tests. 

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak talked briefly about the process on Monday: 

"Overall I think we can withstand this. A lot of this is going to be how long does it take for someone to return. These are all unknowns, it’s not like a sprained ankle when you might have an idea when someone is coming to be back. Every day, I always say we’re learning as we go," Mozeliak says. "I believe you have to be out seven days, then you have to have the two negatives and then you also have to pass some cardio exam as well."

Here's what the Cardinals have said each player will have to do before being taken off the COVID-19 Related Injured List: 

  • Must wait seven days until you can be retested
  • Back-to-back negative tests that are taken at least 24 hours apart
  • Showing no symptoms
  • At least 72 hours without a fever
  • Take an antibody test 
  • Pass a cardiac exam

Although we don't know which days the most recent positive tests happened for each player, it would be possible for up to two players to return as soon as Saturday – if a lot of things go right. The first positive cases reported from the Cardinals organization came last Friday, however, it's not clear if those were players or staff. 

These rules were created on a team-by-team basis. The 2020 Operations Manual – a 101-page document detailing the league's health and safety protocols released in June after being agreed on by the MLB Player's Association – does not give a set plan for all 30 teams. 

Here's what it does say: 

"The Plan must contain, among other things, specific procedures for isolating, transporting, testing, and treating any Covered Individuals who display potential symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19. The Plan must include: (i) procedures for handling such occurrences at each of the Club's facilities and while on the road (including the means for a Covered Individual's return to the Club's home city or his or her personal residence); (ii) identification of one or more local housing options (e.g., hotel or apartment) for any Covered Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 while in the Club's home city or the Club's Spring Training city, or who reside with an individual who tests positive (which housing options shall be arranged by the Club or reimbursed by the Club to the affected Player); (iii) procedures for treating emergent non-COVID-19 health incidents (including specific guidance on appropriate PPE use by staff when addressing such emergencies); (iv) contact information for local health officials responsible for the jurisdiction; and (v) protocols for reporting notice of any symptomatic individuals to the Joint Committee."
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