In preparation for the start of the 2020-2021 season, the NBA began league-widetesting over the last week. In the first week of testing, 546 players were tested and 48 were positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the league.
The NBA did not disclose the names of players who tested positive, but said that “Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test during this initial phase of testing in their team’s market is isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation under the rules established by the NBA and Players Association in accordance with CDC guidelines.”
A source with knowledge of the league’s thinking told CBS News neither the league nor the union are concerned with these initial numbers. The positivity rate of roughly 9% is below the national average, which is hovering around 10%. Since players are traveling from all over the country for the start of the season, it was expected the number of positive tests would be on the high side at first. The source said the league expects the numbers to go down moving forward as players spend more time in once place.
The league has reportedly implemented new COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season to deal with expected positive tests throughout the season. According The Athletic, asymptomatic players will have to sit out for 10 days starting from when they first test positive and then pass a series of health screenings before being allowed to return. Players exhibiting symptoms will reportedly be held out for 10 days beginning from when they are no longer symptomatic. Symptomatic players will have to pass the same health screenings as asymptomatic players before returning.
After the coronavirus pandemic temporarily halted the previous NBA season, the league reconvened in a bubble in Disney World in Florida to finish out the year. This season will not be played in a bubble, and will instead have teams traveling across the country and playing home games in their usual home venues.
, such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, will attempt to have a limited number of fans at their games for the upcoming season. Others, like the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trailblazers, and will not either out of an abundance of caution or because local restrictions would prohibit it.
Alvin Patrick contributed reporting.
First published on December 2, 2020 / 7:53 PM
© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.