Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban Urges NBA to Use Thermal Guns to Test Fans for Coronavirus Symptoms

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has urged the NBA to implement using thermal guns on fans to check them for symptoms of coronavirus once the season eventually resumes.

The NBA halted proceedings on March 11 shortly after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for COVID-19. While it remains to be seen how long the suspension will last, basketball isn't expected by mid-May at the earliest.

Whenever the NBA returns it will probably do so behind closed doors for a while and Cuban suggested that once fans are allowed back into the arenas they should undergo testing for coronavirus symptoms.

A high temperature is one of the telling signs of COVID-19 and while testing 20,000 people in a short amount of time could be a logistical challenge, the Mavs owner insisted the NBA would have to implement stringent measures if it is to prevent the virus from resurfacing.

"It's not hard to use thermal guns to take someone's temperature and look for fevers," Cuban said on CNBC.

"Is it feasible? Yes, absolutely. We have to be very cautious, particularly as we try to come back. At first we'll play a lot of games without fans and figure it out with all the medicines that become available, we'll go from there."

During a pandemic such as coronavirus, infrared thermometers are regularly deployed at airports across the world to allow customs officials to screen arriving passengers.

As of Friday morning, the U.S. has overtaken China as the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with almost 86,000 cases reported—the highest tally in the world.

Almost 1,300 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and 753 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 24,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 533,000 cases globally, with almost 123,000 recovered.

Despite the rapid increase in the number of cases in the U.S., Cuban remained optimistic the NBA will be able to complete its season at some point.

"Without question, that's what I expect will happen," he explained when asked whether he thought the league will resume this year. "People need something to rally around right now. People need sports. We need something to cheer for, something to get excited about. And there's nothing better than our sports teams to do it. Getting excited about a game tonight, everybody in your area watching it, rooting for it, cheering about it."

Last week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver suggested all options were on the table, but did not give a precise timeline as to when the season may resume. The league originally suspended operations for 30 days, but subsequently stated it would follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggested events drawing crowds bigger than 50 people should be canceled or postponed until mid-May at least.

Cuban has been among those advocating the NBA season should be pushed forward by two months to allow games to be played into the summer, echoing the thoughts of Atlanta Hawks' CEO Steve Kooning.

Earlier this month, before the pandemic was declared and before the league was even suspended, Kooning said it was time for the NBA to reconsider its schedule, advocating the season should begin in mid-December as opposed to mid-October, with the NBA Finals scheduled for August and the free agency taking place in September.

With the 2020 Olympics now postponed until next year, a huge logistical hurdle standing in the way of the NBA and completing the season has now been removed and the league could feasibly play through the summer, should the outbreak be brought under control.

Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, during the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 28 in Miami, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.