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Orioles to provide free coronavirus testing to Elev8 Baltimore staff as part of MLB initiative

As part of Major League Baseball’s community testing program, the Orioles have partnered with the league and the Baltimore Community Foundation to provide free coronavirus testing to Elev8 Baltimore educators and staff through January, the team announced Monday.

Since 2009, Elev8 Baltimore has worked with schools in the area to prepare students for further education through out-of-school efforts, school-based health services and resources, and support for families. The COVID-19 testing services will be available beginning this week at the Elev8 Baltimore network for essential staff for Elev8 Baltimore’s 10 Baltimore City community school partners. The initiative has extended the availability to its partner organizations, which include the Black Yield Institute, Cherry Hill Development Corporation, Fund for Educational Excellence, the Greater Washington D.C. Chapter of the Internet Society, the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), Restoring Inner City Hope, Inc. (RICH), and Rowdy Orbit.

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“During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Elev8 Baltimore’s commitment to safely ensuring the flow of resources and opportunities to communities of color is an extension of our full-service community school strategy,” Alexandria Warrick Adams, the executive director of Elev8 Baltimore, said in a statement. “Through this partnership with the Baltimore Orioles and MLB, we are prepared to keep those on the front lines safe during that service. This partnership should serve as a reminder that together we will emerge from this crisis stronger.”

The Orioles and the Baltimore Community Foundation identified Elev8 Baltimore as a community partner for the testing program, with the Boston Red Sox being one of the few other teams to formally announce its community-serving efforts as part of MLB’s program. The league recently completed its 2020 season in which players, coaches and other staff were tested for the virus regularly. Community testing was included as part of the league’s manual for conducting its season amid the pandemic.

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The tests, an FDA-authorized COVID-19 test through the Spectrum Solutions SDNA-100 saliva collection kit, will be provided to Elev8 for free through MLB’s program.

Maryland reported at least 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the 27th straight day Monday, as well as the state’s first virus-related death of a child under 10 years old.

“We are pleased to collaborate with MLB and BCF to provide much-needed COVID-19 testing to the educators and staff of Elev8 Baltimore and their partner organizations, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that students and families in our community receive the learning, health, and family-engagement services they need,” Jennifer Grondal, the Orioles’ Senior Vice President of Community Development and Communications said in a statement.

‘MLB Draft League’ announced

MLB announced Monday the creation of the MLB Draft League, which will host prospects eligible for the draft, which has moved later in the year to July, and allow them to be evaluated by representatives from various clubs, both in-person and technologically. The effort will also include educational programming for the players to help prepare for their upcoming careers.

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The league will provide five organizations — the Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Scrappers, the State College (Pennsylvania) Spikes, the Trenton (New Jersey) Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears and the Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Crosscutters — the opportunity to continue hosting baseball in their communities despite losing their status as affiliated minor-league teams. MLB’s announcement mentioned that negotiations with a sixth team are ongoing.

The realignment of minor league baseball will leave each major league franchise with four non-complex affiliates. The Orioles have five — Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie, High-A Frederick, Low-A Delmarva and short-season Aberdeen — meaning at least one of those organizations will no longer be affiliated with Baltimore.

MLB’s plan for modernizing the minors includes the elimination of short-season and non-complex rookie-level affiliates — members of the Appalachian League and New York-Penn League will become part of amateur wood-bat leagues — but the general manager of Aberdeen, a former member of the NYPL, told the Baltimore Sun that he expects the IronBirds to become one of Baltimore’s four full-season affiliates, rather than becoming an unaffiliated club.

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