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Coronavirus: Nationals reliever Doolittle blasts US over COVID-19 response

July 6 2020 12:55 AM

Washington Nationals left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle has previously called out MLB for its coronavirus precautions and on Sunday he went on a lengthy rant over the United States' response to the pandemic.

The USA has been hit hard by COVID-19, with nearly three million confirmed cases and a death toll exceeding 132,000.

"We're trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that's killed 130,000 people [in the USA]. We're way worse off as a country than we were in March when we shut this thing down," Doolittle said. "Look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven't done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back.

"Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we're trying to just bring it back, even though we've taken none of the steps to flatten the curve, whatever you want to say. We did flatten the curve a little bit, but we didn't use that time to do anything productive. We just opened back up for Memorial Day. We decided we're done with it.

"If there aren't sports, it's going to be because people are not wearing masks, because the response to this has been so politicized. We need help from the general public.

"If they want to watch baseball, please wear a mask, social distance, keep washing your hands. We can't just have virus fatigue and keep thinking, 'Well, it's been four months, we're over it, this has been enough time, right? We've waited long enough, shouldn't sports come back now?' No, there are things we have to do in order to bring this stuff back. And now you want to bring fans back? Is that safe? I don't know. I'm not a public health expert, but we should probably defer to them on some of these issues.

"So, I don't know if it's safe or not. I really don't know. But that doesn't seem like something that … I don't know if that feels like a good idea or not. I don't know."

Doolittle also said he is still debating about playing this season amid health and safety concerns. Earlier on Sunday, Atlanta Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez announced he is going to sit out this season after Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price decided he would sit out on Saturday. 

Another point of frustration for the 33-year-old Doolittle is that he still has not received his COVID-19 results from Friday even though MLB claimed testing would have a 24-hour turnaround time. He also said National players have not been given respirator masks they were told they would receive. 

In mid-May, Doolittle posted a long Twitter thread presenting a number of questions about health protections for players, families, staff and stadium workers. He also provided links to articles that further examined the topics he was addressing. 

The eight-year major-league veteran has appeared in 390 games for the Nationals and Oakland Athletics, striking out 457 batters over 388 innings. He was instrumental to the Nationals' World Series championship run last season, posting a 1.74 ERA over nine playoff appearances.

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