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The coronavirus tests run on the Utah Jazz’s players and team employees came from a good portion of the state of Oklahoma’s supply.
The 50-plus tests that were run on the Jazz’s traveling party after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 were from the state and not a private lab. And the number of tests run on Jazz players represents over half of the state’s daily peak capacity testing levels.
“We have the capacity to run about 100 tests a day and we have a number of test kits,” Oklahoma commissioner of health Gary Cox said at a Thursday news conference. “We're ordering additional reagents at the time. So, we have the current capacity I think for about 300 tests.” Oklahoma has had three positive cases of the virus so far with four still pending. Thirty-six tests have returned negative.
While Gobert was the first member of the Jazz to test positive, he wasn’t the only one. Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for COVID-19. In the Jazz’s statement announcing Mitchell’s positive test, the team noted that the tests were administered by Oklahoma health officials.
With COVID-19 seen so far to impact older populations and those with underlying health conditions far more than younger and healthier people, the Jazz using up more than half of the state’s daily resources for coronavirus testing is probably not the best decision. Those tests could have been better used on vulnerable populations while Jazz players and staffers could have self-quarantined out of precaution for 14 days to prevent any further potential spread.
But Gobert’s positive test may also have been a turning point for the sports world and the United States population’s view of the virus. The NBA quickly suspended its season after Gobert tested positive and other sports leagues and governing bodies followed suit. Major League Baseball and the NHL suspended operations and the NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments along with every other spring sports championship.
Sports are generally our escape. That escape now no longer exists for the short term and that lack of an escape may now make the potential severity of the virus hit a lot closer for most of the population. Could Gobert and the Jazz have made people more vigilant and hyper-aware of what could be on the horizon to help mitigate the mushrooming effects of COVID-19?
It’s very possible. That could be an upside, even if some people who needed the tests in Oklahoma didn’t get them on Wednesday as the Jazz took precedent. And it should be a huge sign for everyone that testing availability in the United States is still woefully inadequate.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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