NBA, NBPA say that 5.3 percent of players tested positive for COVID-19

K.C. Johnson
NBC Sports Chicago

On the same day the NBA plans to release its schedule for the 22-team restart next month in Orlando, Fla., it also, in a joint statement with the National Basketball Players Association, announced that 16 players tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

"Any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until he satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician," the statement said.

Testing for all 22 teams began Tuesday and covered 302 players. That 5.3 percent positive test rate is a similar percentage to the last acknowledged rate announced by the NHL, which also plans to try to salvage its 2019-20 season next month. On June 19, the NHL announced that 11 players from a sample "in excess of 200" produced positive results upon testing.

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For another comparison, Premier League soccer administered nine rounds of testing and 10,228 tests to produce a similar number of positive results, according to The Athletic's Ed Malyon.

The NBA and NBPA have agreed to daily testing in Orlando and administered this round of testing as teams began gathering in their respective markets. In the 113-page return-to-play document sent to all teams, there is specific protocol players who tested positive must pass, including two consecutive negative tests more than 24 hours apart and cardiac screening.

The league has acknowledged positive tests will occur, even as the games begin at Disney's Wide World of Sports campus. Players had the right to opt out of returning because of all the uncertainty with the virus.

Speaking on a conference call Friday afternoon, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts both expressed relief that the number of positive tests was as low as it was.

"None of the 16 were seriously ill in any way," Silver said. "That was also a big relief for us."

Still, Silver acknowledged that the rapidly rising numbers of positive cases for the coronavirus in Florida is concerning, and that if there is significant spread within the campus-like environment "that ultimately might lead us to stopping."

Neither Silver nor Roberts stated to what level any potential outbreak may have to reach for such a scenario. However, Silver stressed that the campus-like environment plans for daily testing, and rigorous safety protocols have positioned the league as well as it can at a time when the virus isn't going to go away and the country is learning to live with risk levels.

"The level of concern has increased, not just because of the increased levels in Florida but throughout the country," the commissioner acknowledged.

The identities of the 16 players that tested positive were not disclosed. A number of notable players who have tested positive were recently made public - including Nikola Jokic, Malcolm BrogdonJabari Parker, Buddy Hield, Alex Len and Derrick Jones Jr. - though it's unclear how many of them were in this 302-player sample.

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NBA, NBPA say that 5.3 percent of players tested positive for COVID-19 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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