Coronavirus Outbreaks in the NBA: What is the Situation?

The most important basketball league in the world is having many contagion problems. Here we will tell you everything you need to keep in mind about the coronavirus outbreaks in the NBA.

Juego de la NBA All-Star

Foto: Wikimedia - Laslovarga

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

The highest basketball division in the United States reported new outbreaks of COVID-19. In the 2021-2022 season we have seen that all the franchises have had several players isolated by protocol against possible contagion, to the point that the teams have hardly been able to fit the "ideal" quintet in several consecutive games.

All of this resulted in more than 300 NBA players having to enter the league's health and safety protocols due to issues related to COVID-19. However, that is not all: the people who are in charge of the day-to-day running of the institutions were also affected.

More specifically, between December 7 and January 10 alone, more than 450 positive cases were reported from Tier 1 personnel alone (anyone who works in close proximity to players). That is, we are talking about team managers, props, security personnel, health personnel and all those who work daily in the NBA.

Although these cases have a negative influence on sports performance, they are also a concern for the health of many people. Unlike basketball players, a large part of the auxiliary personnel of the institutions can be considered "at risk" (due to age or physical condition).

Now, it must be taken into account that, in recent times, modifications have emerged around the NBA protocols. For example, at the end of 2021 we saw that, after an agreement with the Players Association, the rules that were established since the start of the pandemic have been modified.

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Thereafter, players and coaches who test positive but are vaccinated or asymptomatic will only need to spend 6 days in quarantine. This was a controversial change, since the previous 10-day period implied a lower risk of contagion to the players themselves, coaches, institutional staff and referees.

In other words, the fact of relaxing the rules for vaccinated players and teams tried to be a kind of "motivation" so that all professionals could be vaccinated. A clear example was Kyrie Irving, who is not vaccinated and was temporarily removed from his team, the Brooklyn Nets.

However, recently we have also seen that the rules have been altered in recent weeks. For example, at the beginning of this year the Australian returned to the courts and played his first game of the season without being vaccinated, in his team's victory against the Indiana Pacers by 129 to 212.

This is something that is completely different from what It happens in other competitions. Perhaps the most important case is that of Novak Djokovic, one of the most important tennis players on the planet. The Serbian also refused vaccination, so the Australian authorities seek to expel him from the country and prevent him from playing the first Grand Slam of the year.

In any case, the outlook for vaccination is encouraging. 90% of those infected in recent months correspond to the Omicron variant, while 97% of players are vaccinated with two doses, while 65% are already vaccinated with a third dose.

The positive cases do not stop and there are no plans to stop the competition. Although some meetings have been suspended during the Christmas dates, at no time was it thought of stopping playing. So what could be done to continue with the league, but decrease the rate of COVID-19 patients?

One option is proposed by a player himself: Austin Rivers, who is currently with the Denver Nuggets. He mentioned that the NBA should reapply daily testing, something that had been implemented in 2020, when it was one of the first competitions in the world to return to the ring.

In that case, there was a strict protocol: no public in the stadiums, concentrations of players with biological bubbles and, of course, daily tests. In this way, if the infections increase during the following weeks, we may see this competition return to the formula that had made it so successful.