NBA and NBPA plan to increase Covid-19 testing due to surge in cases
With the league facing a wave of positive tests for COVID-19, the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association are in talks focused on increasing cross-league testing for vaccinated players and staff, league sources report to ESPN.
As of Wednesday morning, a total of 60 players have entered health and safety protocols this season, including 43 in the past two weeks. Thirteen players entered protocols on Tuesday, the highest level on any day in this regular season. The previous high in a single day was four.
The Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets have all been hit by the outbreak, and he won the NBA Most Valuable Player award twice. Giannis Antikonmo Of the Milwaukee Bucks entered protocols Tuesday.
League sources said that while testing talks between the NBA and the league are ongoing, testing is expected to increase across the league over the Christmas and New Year holidays as well, including for those who have been vaccinated.
Enhanced testing was also conducted around the Thanksgiving holiday, and the NBA and NBPA agreed to test all players and Level 1 staff, anyone working within 15 feet of players, daily from November 28-30, including those who have been vaccinated.
Sources in the league said there will also be more reinforcement requirements for staff beyond first-level staff expected. Currently, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has imposed a Friday deadline for players who are eligible to receive booster injections, and those who do not face stricter protocols, including game-day testing.
With regard to staff, the National Basketball Association indicated in a previous memo that eligible individuals who have not yet received a boost will not be able to interact personally with players, travel with the team, or continue as “Level 1 staff,” with limited exceptions. .
Team managers and team health officials have described in recent days a sense of frustration with players who have tested positive but are not showing symptoms, with those team officials saying they hope the league will one day, and possibly soon, reach a point where it is felt only by players who feel it. So. The disease will be marginalized.
But league sources said the NBA remains aware that those who have not shown symptoms can still transmit the virus, and the NBA remains committed to following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and its infectious disease experts.
Although 97% of players were vaccinated, some team executives and health officials expressed pre-season concern that the NBA would not enter the season by testing all players who were vaccinated on a break from the previous season. In such circumstances, tracking the virus amid potential breaches, team officials said, will be a challenge. But it is also understood in the league that daily testing in a highly pollinated league will likely not receive enough participation to approve or enforce it, team officials said.
“I’m actually fine with that if we understand the risk factors,” the general manager of the ESPN Western Conference said regarding the lack of daily testing for all vaccinated players.
Sources in the league said the league is hoping more players and reinforcements will improve immunity, but it seems unlikely that the league, according to the NBPA, will require reinforcements. The NBA has achieved a vaccination rate of 97% without the need for vaccines, and there is optimism that it can achieve similar numbers for booster doses without the need for them.
And there is suspicion in the league that the latest rally, which several team managers and health officials say was predicted months in advance, will cause a halt, although further delays are expected. Several NBA GMs note that the league beat the spread of COVID-19 from last winter, despite many games being postponed, and was able to finish the season and be crowned champions.
But there is certainly growing concern among team health officials and team executives who see other leagues facing outbreaks and matches being postponed or canceled.
“We are now practically defenseless, not against disease, but against transmission and contraction,” said one of the main athletic trainers at the Western Conference.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski contributed to this report.