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Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Major League Baseball has postponed its opening series between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets to double down on testing and contact tracing for Nationals players, coaches and staff, the league announced Friday.

Why it matters: After three Nationals players tested positive for the coronavirus this week, MLB is taking precautions to prevent further delays.

The state of play: The season opener, slated for Thursday night, was supposed to mark America's return to its favorite pastime, with 5,000 fans allowed in Nationals Park. But the team's positive COVID tests led the league to postpone the game, a reminder that the pandemic remains a force to be reckoned with.

  • The Nationals are scheduled to play against the Braves next Monday, but it's unclear if they'll be cleared in time.
  • MLB hasn't announced when the postponed games will be made up.
  • Nationals players, coaches and staff were tested Thursday and will be tested again Friday, the Washington Post reports. The team expects to know Thursday's results — which will inform next steps — by late Friday afternoon.

Go deeper

Washington Nationals player tests positive for COVID on eve of opener

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, last August. Photo: G Fiume/Getty Images

On the eve of the MLB regular season's start, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo announced a player has tested positive for COVID-19, and four teammates and a staffer are in quarantine.

Why it matters: Major League Baseball is still reeling from the impact of the coronavirus last season, when sponsor revenue plummeted by up to 60% and players' salary also fell, as the pandemic shortened the season.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The COVID booster vaccine discussion is far from over — Cuba becomes first country to begin mass vaccination of children.
  2. Health: Chicago has highest COVID-19 case rates in city worker neighborhoods — International Mission Board to require COVID vaccine for missionaries.
  3. Politics: Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers — Footage shows new details after NYC restaurant incident over proof of vaccination.
  4. Education: More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines — Most Kentucky school boards vote in favor of mask mandates —Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Feds push forward on rapid coronavirus tests

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The federal government is pushing forward on rapid, at-home coronavirus tests.

Why it matters: Testing remains an important part of controlling the pandemic, even as vaccinations continue to rise — both for people who haven't yet been vaccinated, and to catch emerging outbreaks early.