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MLB Suspends Spring Training and Postpones Opening Day by at Least 2 Weeks

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Major League Baseball will suspend operations for the next four weeks, including spring training and the first two weeks of the regular season in response to the spread of coronavirus, the league announced Thursday. MLB is the fourth major American pro sports league to suspend its season due to COVID-19, joining the NBA, NHL and MLS. The decision comes after the league's owners discussed plans on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

MLB said it would cease operations at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Spring training games were played as scheduled in Florida earlier on Thursday afternoon with fans in attendance.

The National Basketball Association was the first of the major American leagues to act, suspending its season on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the start of a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. MLS followed suit Thursday, shutting down operations for 30 days.

Earlier this week, the Seattle Mariners released the following statement after Washington governor Jay Inslee announced a ban on public gatherings of more than 250 people. 

"Following Washington Governor Jay Inslee's announcement this morning that he is banning large group events through March, the Seattle Mariners are working with the Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner on alternative plans for our games that were scheduled for the end of March at T-Mobile Park in Seattle."

Other cities have followed suit in an effort to "flatten the curve," or to make the rate of infection more manageable for the healthcare system and professionals. 

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while some patients only show mild symptoms and recover, others have developed life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, CBS News reports. 

CBS News has the latest updates about the virus, which has affected various sports globally and in the United States and has at present caused more than 4,000 fatalities worldwide. Here at CBS Sports we have a running updates on how sports leagues are responding to coronavirus. 

This was originally published on CBSNews.com on March 12.

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