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Multiple Los Angeles Clippers staff members are now in quarantine after at least one of them tested positive for COVID-19 following the team’s matchup against the Utah Jazz on Friday.
The positive test has been traced back to a staff New Year’s Eve gathering the night before in Salt Lake City, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The seven staff members in question did not travel with the team to Phoenix for Sunday’s matchup with the Suns. No players, coaches or team management are among the group, according to the report.
Clippers staff held New Year’s Eve party amid COVID-19
The Clippers fell to the Jazz 106-100 on Friday night, marking the first of a quick two-game weekend road trip.
It’s not clear when the staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, however contact tracing revealed that the Clippers’ support staff held a New Year’s Eve gathering with both food and drinks in the presidential suite of the team hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday night, according to Wojnarowski.
That event, per the report, “included intermittent mask wearing.”
The quarantined group did not travel with the team to Phoenix after the game on Friday night, but instead drove from Salt Lake City back to Los Angeles in vans so they can isolate at home. It is unclear if they came into contact with any players or coaches after Thursday’s party.
The NBA kicked off a shortened 72-game regular season late last month amid massive spikes in both coronavirus cases and deaths across the United States. The country is averaging more than 200,000 new cases and more than 2,600 deaths related to the coronavirus a day over the past week, according to The New York Times.
The NBA has implemented strict protocol measures in order to ensure the season can move forward, and has encouraged teams to hand out punishment for violations themselves. The league is also planning to require players and some staffers to start wearing contact tracing sensors this week.
While the league announced that there were no positive cases among players after the first week of the season, there have been several significant speed bumps along the way. The Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder matchup on Dec. 23 was postponed after the Rockets had several players in quarantine. James Harden was fined $50,000 for his alleged strip club visit ahead of that game, too.
It’s unknown what punishment, if any, the team will hand down after the staff’s New Year’s Eve event.
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