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NBA teams reportedly can start coronavirus testing asymptomatic players

NBA COVID-19 tests

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 06: A COVID-19 test vial is shown at a drive-up testing station in the parking lot of UNLV Medicine on April 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV Medicine, the clinical arm of the UNLV School of Medicine, has tested more than 2,000 pre-screened people since beginning its free curbside testing operation on March 23rd, but currently has only enough test kits to continue through tomorrow due to the national shortage of kits. The school will continue or restart testing if it is able to procure more kits. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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It’s the cornerstone of the league’s Orlando restart plan and it can get underway — NBA teams can begin coronavirus testing of asymptomatic players and staff at their facilities.

This was long expected and the league sent a memo to teams clearing the way for it, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Teams are to test players every other day starting June 23, then test them on consecutive days before teams leave for the Orlando bubble, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN. Once at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex on the Walt Disney World property, players will be tested daily.

The league got a black eye back in March when every Brooklyn Net — including asymptomatic players — was tested while there was a severe shortage of tests both in New York and around the nation (at that point people with symptoms in New York could not get tested). NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had said from the start the league would not go forward with this plan unless there were enough tests available that they were not taking tests away from places they were needed.

While experts would argue we as a nation should be doing more testing, there are now tests widely available.

Once players start arriving in Orlando on July 7 they will be tested daily. The idea is that if a player gets the disease, even with the risk of false negatives with tests, the league will find any ill player quickly enough to quarantine him and limit the spread. Silver has said games will not stop due to one positive test and teams have to be ready for that; the league is on a tight timeline with its schedule and will not stop because a player has the disease.

The NBA coronavirus testing is expected to be either an oral or less-invasive nasal swab, not the painful deep nasal swab that nobody would want to be done daily for three months. With that, the league is backing a Yale study on saliva-based testing, reports Charania.

Players will test positive, it’s inevitable. The league is betting its restart on the fact it can stop the spread of the virus in its bubble with all this testing. A lot is riding on the league winning that bet.