There’s plenty of concern surrounding the new NBA season taking place outside a bubble at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite some high-profile protocol violations last week, the NBA and NBPA announced on Wednesday that zero players of 495 tested since Dec. 24 have tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA regularly provides updates of its test results.
The news arrives as COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on college basketball, forcing widespread game cancellations as teams pause or cancel their seasons.
No bubble means more COVID-19 risk
After successfully completing the 2019-20 season in its Disney World bubble, the NBA is back to a modified version of its normal schedule with teams traveling to opposing cities and arenas as usual. Travel is reduced as a COVID-19 precaution with teams sometimes staying in cities to play back-to-back game.
Some arenas are allowing limited fans based on local and state regulations. Even in arenas without fans, concerns are amplified around basketball with all games played indoors, where the coronavirus transmits more effectively.
The season got off to a rocky start with the NBA postponing a matchup between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 23, the second day of the new season. The league announced that day that three Rockets had returned either positive or inconclusive tests.
Several Rockets players, including John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, were quarantine due to contact tracing related to those tests. The pair finally returned to practice on Wednesday.
Since that incident, it appears that the NBA has avoided any other COVID-19 exposures. During a 72-game season as the pandemic continues to rage, positive tests and complications seem inevitable. But Wednesday’s news is an encouraging sign for the league early on.
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