The NBA is back! While slam dunks and deep threes are back, safety and health concerns come with it. To finish off the 2019-2020 NBA season, the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver were lucky enough to host the final eight regular-season games and playoffs at Disney World in Orlando. However, this season, they no longer have this opportunity. Without the privilege of having a “bubble” to prevent Covid-19 from entering and exiting the area where players play, how will they manage to prevent the spread of this virus?
This NBA season will be like no other. The league will face challenges, such as the Toronto Raptors not being allowed to play in Canada, and it will be a test for the association. The NBA officially released a 134-page guide to teams and new outlets outlining the protocol in effect to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This document displays the NBA’s diligence with the virus.
According to Tim Bontemps from ESPN, while a player is infected with Covid-19 he will not be able to participate in team practices, games, or training and the NBA has come up with two ways to halt the spread of this virus once a player or staff member tests positive.
The first method being one that requires time. In this method, the person who tests positive will be required to self-isolate for at least ten days after their positive test, or go 24 hours without any fevers and the loss of other symptoms, without the use of of the loss of taste and smell, which are tell-tale signs of Covid-19.
If a player takes this route, even after not exhibiting symptoms, they must do their workouts and practices individually. They are additionally required to wear a mask at all times when in team facilities. With this process, the total number of days spent out of practices and games adds up to a minimum of 12.
The second method to return after testing positive would be to register negative tests at least 24 hours after each other. This method is likely to be used by teams because of the reduced time required to return to practice compared to the first method mentioned above.
A prime example of this testing would be Houston Rockets all-star James Harden. Harden had many in the sports media concerned about him being a no-show at practice and he has been seen on video partying and going to rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party. “Uh, yeah, as far as timetable, there is no timetable as far as I know,” Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said when asked about Harden, according to a CBS Sports interview. For Harden to return, he required six straight negative Covid-19 tests.
In extreme cases, if a player is hospitalized or severely ill due to the virus, they are required to be observed for a minimum of three days before returning to practice and play.
Along with the protocol used for when a player or staff member tests positive for Covid-19, there are many things teams will be required to do on a daily basis, according to NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin. Every day, players will be tested and their health will be monitored. When traveling as a team, there may be a limit of 45 people, with a maximum of 17 players.
Teams are additionally required to hire people to fit specific roles such as infectious disease experts, rapid testing coordinators, and contact tracers, just to name a few. Finally, the NBA is bringing back something that was featured in the NBA bubble in Orlando, what many people called the “snitch hotline.” This hotline is used to anonymously report violations of the Covid-19 protocol.
With the season set to start on December 22, only time will tell if the NBA’s Covid-19 protocol will work effectively to combat the virus.