The NBA told teams not to test asymptomatic players for coronavirus.
After all, teams faced criticism for using too many scarce tests in the early days of the shutdown. The league was sensitive to more more blowback.
But not sensitive enough to completely halt the testing of asymptomatic players.
In municipalities where coronavirus testing has become readily available to at-risk health care workers, NBA teams opening facilities for voluntary workouts will be allowed to administer tests to asymptomatic players and staff, sources told ESPN.
As team facilities reopen in the coming days and weeks, organizations such as the Orlando Magic, LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be among the teams allowed to conduct coronavirus tests of every player and staff member entering facilities for individual workouts — regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms, sources said.
Among teams that opened up facilities on Friday, including Cleveland and Portland, those testing options weren’t in place, sources said.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
The Orlando Magic say they have gotten permission from the Orange County Department of Health to test players for COVID-19. Officials have determined there is a robust supply of tests for the general public in that area, so the Magic would not be unnecessarily taxing resources.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) May 8, 2020
That leaves such a narrow restriction. It’s important for at-risk healthcare workers to be tested, yes. But they’re far from the only group for whom testing is important.
It’s particularly important for asymptomatic workers at essential businesses – like grocery stores and gas stations – to be tested more. It’s particularly important for asymptomatic people in shared living spaces – especially nursing homes – to be tested more. It’s particularly important for asymptomatic people who have or are around others with underlying conditions to be tested more.
It’s not particularly important for asymptomatic NBA players to be tested more.
If the NBA wants to commit its considerable financial resources toward testing, that’s fine. Paying for tests will inject money into the companies conducting testing and boost access to testing for everyone in time. But the NBA shouldn’t express such a willingness to wait on tests, draw praise for its stance then set parameters like this.
Also: If there’s really such widespread testing in Orlando, that’d bode well for resuming the season in Disney World.