Portland Trail Blazers

NBA return-to-play plan faces uphill battle as Florida fights off COVID-19

Portland Trail Blazers

(Corrected with new information)

The NBA is headed for Florida for its return-to-play, but it’s going to have to be very careful in Orlando.

According to a since-corrected report, “nearly 500” people who work at the Orlando airport have been tested for COVID-19 and 260 of them have tested positive. That report, issued by the state's governor, was in error.

In reality, the total number of positive tests were from mid-March through June and during that time there have been 132 cases of the virus among the 25,000 workers at the airport. The other 128 cases were people who had associated with airport workers but were not employees. But that doesn't mean Florida isn't dealing with a large volume of infection.

More than 2,780 new cases were reported Tuesday in Florida and it’s obvious the NBA is going to be facing a very difficult task to keep its teams sequestered from the virus when they begin to report to Disney World July 7-9.

More than 80,000 have tested positive for the virus in the state and it’s going to be incumbent upon the NBA to make sure that anyone who comes into contact with league personnel has been tested and cleared.

Can the league pull it off?

I think there’s a reasonable chance this could work. There are a lot of very smart people making decisions and they are going to need to have a vigilant staff watching over this very big group, particularly when family begins showing up for playoff games.

There is even going to be a “snitch” line where people can report players or staff violating the quarantine rules.

But it’s impossible to predict how this will turn out. In a month, Florida could turn out to be the most virus-infected state in the country -- or not.

But the thing I like most about what the NBA has done is take small steps forward with caution. Each move seems to have come after careful study and consideration.

I would worry, moving forward, the biggest problem could become people -- inside or outside the NBA’s bubble -- who become bored or complacent about the presence and seriousness of the virus. That leads to carelessness that could destroy the entire project.

It’s going to be a gigantic undertaking and there is certainly no guarantee that it will progress to the point that NBA teams will even get to Orlando.

But I admire those who have worked so hard to attempt to work things out. And I appreciate the players and associated staff who have (or will) agree to give it a try.