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NBA advises teams not to test asymptomatic players for coronavirus


NETHERLANDS - 2020/04/02: In this photo illustration a latex test tube for the Covid-19 coronavirus seen next to US dollar banknotes. (Photo Illustration by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Eventually, if the NBA is going to create a “bubble” somewhere to finish out the season, it’s going to have to test everyone involved — players, coaches, trainers, etc. To create a bubble and make it stick, the NBA estimates it will need about 15,000 tests, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN.

The league is not there yet.

The NBA is close to letting teams allow players into their facilities to workoutunder stringent guidelines — in areas that have re-opened. However, what the league does not want yet is for teams to test asymptomatic players, and it told them so in a memo, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

The memo states that, “for the time being, it is not appropriate in the current public health environment to regularly test all players and staff for the coronavirus.”...

Teams were instructed to make any decisions on testing any players or staff “in consultation with an infectious disease specialist, and in consideration of the patient’s individual circumstances and guidance on testing related to COVID-19 from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and from the local health authority in the team’s market.”

The league is still feeling the PR sting from when several entire NBA teams were tested after games were suspended mid-March — back when tests were scarce and even people with symptoms could not get tests in some areas. Getting entire teams tested then reeked of moneyed privilege. The league learned from that mistake.

Eventually, however, if the league is going to play games again this season — even without fans — it’s going to need extensive testing. While the NBA league office has worked with private companies and reportedly has lined up the required tests, if some areas still don’t have enough tests to re-open the economy it would be the same PR problem for the league.

Hopefully, for the nation’s sake, we have the needed testing — both diagnostic tests and antibody tests — to start to re-open the nation sooner rather than later. The NBA is just one part of that wave.