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New coronavirus cases continue to spike around Orlando

NBA coronavirus

CHINA - 2020/03/22: In this photo illustration the American National Basketball Association (NBA) men’s professional basketball league logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a computer model of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the background. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Florida is seeing a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, not surprising just a few weeks after the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, was eager to throw the doors open and restart the economy with limited — and largely ignored — restrictions.

That includes a record number of new coronavirus cases in Orange County, the area surrounding the Walt Disney World resort property in Orlando — where the NBA plans to restart its season, with players arriving in 18 days.

The key statistic here is the percentage of positive tests — it’s not a case of “they are testing more,” it means that no matter how many more tests are being done, more people are testing positive. Meaning more people are getting the disease.

Florida overall reported 3,822 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Friday, a new record and the second day in a row with more than 3,000 new cases.

The NBA is heading to Orlando to create a bubble, one designed to keep players in and the virus out. Players and staff will be quarantined upon arrival until they have two negative tests 24 hours apart, and from there will be tested regularly. People inside the NBA’s Orlando campus will have to wear a mask, follow a litany of social distancing and other protective procedures, eat the food prepared in the bubble, sleep in the hotels in the bubble, and generally not physically interact with the outside world.

The league is going forward with its plan despite the coronavirus cases in Orlando, with the hope that once a bubble is created the virus can be kept at bay, or at least quickly contained if someone does get it.

“No one is suggesting that this is going to be an infection-free, guaranteed environment,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Associated Press this week. “I guess, unless we go to ... well, where would we go? What state has the lowest rate? There’s just no way of finding a sterile environment probably on this planet, but certainly, not in this country...

“My solace is that our guys are not going to be out and about in the city of Orlando,” Roberts said. “The players will be flown in non-commercial, and they will essentially be on campus for the entirety of their stay until such time as their season ends.”

The concern is that Disney staff will not be in the bubble, the hotel workers and staff will go home at night. Those works will get temperature checks, wear masks and gloves, and most of them will have little to any interaction with the players. Still, there is a risk in an area where cases are spiking.

It’s something everyone is watching as the NBA’s return gets closer.