48 NBA players test positive for virus as league preps for return

The NBA tested 546 players in November for COVID-19 during the initial testing phase

The National Basketball Association revealed this week that 48 players have tested positive for coronavirus as it prepares to begin a new season this December.

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According to AP News, 546 players were tested for COVID-19 during the time between Nov. 24-30 which marked the initial testing phase. The athletes are subjected to the tests and must have cleared three negative PCR tests in that same time frame before being allowed to begin individual workouts. Out of the 48 players who tested positive, some would not be cleared before the NBA’s preseason schedule starts on Dec. 11.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 27: The Black Lives Matter logo is seen on an empty court as all NBA playoff games were postponed today during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 27, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NBA players have reportedly decided to resume the season after their walkout of playoff games on Wednesday to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The outlet reported most teams are expected to begin 5-on-5 practices Friday, others on Sunday with the Golden State Warriors beginning on Monday. Players who test positive for coronavirus must remain isolated until cleared by rules established by the league and NBA union, and in accordance with CDC guidelines.

All players with confirmed positive tests “must receive medical clearance from a team-designated physician and a league-designated physician prior to entering a team facility, participating in in-person team-organized activities, or interacting in-person with other[s],” AP reported.

“During this pandemic, all this stuff is going to be different this season,” Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic said according to the outlet. “Some players might get corona, get sick, not be able to be with the team for 10 days. So, I think that’s going to be a big part — which team is not going to have positive people. It’s going to be a lot of time together. I think that’s going to be key.”

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theGrio reported last month that the NBA is slated to begin the 2020-2021 season on December 22 with a 72 game season. The 2019-2020 season wrapped up safely after the league initiated the NBA bubble. No cases of coronavirus were transmitted as the teams played in isolation. The league initially shut down on March 11 due to the pandemic. Only 22 teams of 30 made it to the bubble.

The reigning NBA champion team the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in October. This will mark the shortest offseason in NBA history with only 7 weeks since their last game.

2020 NBA Finals - Game Six
The Los Angeles Lakers celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2020 NBA Championship Final over the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Another bubble is not yet planned. However, the league has issued strict rules to hinder and hopefully halt the spread of COVID-19 among players, officials, coaches, and others affiliated with the sport. According to Yahoo Sports, the NBA released a 134-page health and safety protocol guide.

Players must wear masks while in the team facility as soon as they exit their vehicles, except while practicing or training. Coaches and training staff must keep their masks on during practice and are prohibited from lowering their face coverings to yell or address players.

Yahoo reported teams will designate up to 45 people as their Tier 1 group, built of players, coaches, training staff, and more. That group will not be allowed to access any areas used for business operations nor have in-person interactions with Tier 3 individuals. Each team is also restricted to a 45 person travel team. If players test positive, teams have to inform local public health authorities, conduct contact tracing, clean and disinfect any area the player has occupied since the last negative test, and provide housing for the player to isolate.

Mo Bamba, a center for the Orlando Magic, tested positive for COVID-19 in June and his player status is still questionable.

“There’s no real timetable for him to be able to come back and fully participate. I think that he’ll be able to do some things that are more organizational and everything. But he’s a ways away, and there’s no timetable on his return,” said coach Steve Clifford according to The Atlantic reporter Joshua Robbins.

Bamba described the experience to The Atlantic and clarified that although he still has work to do, the virus symptoms are gone.

“I just want to clarify that I’m not. I haven’t felt any symptoms since the summer — in fact, June. But we all know that it takes a toll on conditioning, and I just want everybody to know that I’m working my ass off to get back in peak shape. I think I’m getting pretty close. Literally, every day is valuable towards this. But definitely, I’ve been working.”

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