The NBA is trying to cut down on how many coronavirus tests it’s using during the pandemic. The league reportedly sent a memo to teams Thursday urging them to stop arranging coronavirus tests for players who are asymptomatic, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
The memo reportedly states that regularly testing all players and staff is no longer appropriate in the “current public health environment.”
The NBA has come under fire for using so many tests, especially when testing is not widely available in the United States. When Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus in March, the Jazz used 60 percent of Oklahoma’s coronavirus tests on Jazz players. Some argued those tests would have been better allocated toward those who were at a higher risk for experiencing severe symptoms.
Following Gobert’s positive test, a number of NBA teams were able to arrange testing for players and staff. While those tests also caught more players who had the virus, the issue of whether NBA players should have had access to those tests in the first place remained.
NBA players will still have access to those tests if necessary, but teams are being advised to go through more hoops before securing a coronavirus test, according to ESPN.
Teams were instructed to make any decisions on testing any players or staff "in consultation with an infectious disease specialist, and in consideration of the patient's individual circumstances and guidance on testing related to COVID-19 from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and from the local health authority in the team's market."
The NBA could be looking to cut down on testing before ramping things up dramatically. If the NBA season continues, the league will need roughly 15,000 tests, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That’s quite the ask. While the NBA should be able to buy those tests from manufacturers, the optics of taking those tests from those in need is still an issue. Testing around the United States has improved since March, but it’s still not in a place where those in need have easy access to a coronavirus test.
While the NBA has discussed a number of options for resuming play, no definitive plans have been made regarding when the season will continue.
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