NBA Tells Teams Not to Test Players and Staff Showing No Signs of Coronavirus

The NBA has reportedly advised teams against testing players and team personnel that do not show symptoms of coronavirus.

According to ESPN, on Thursday night the league issued a memo directed to all 30 teams in which it recommended not testing players and staff who were asymptomatic.

"For the time being, it is not appropriate in the current public health environment to regularly test all players and staff for the coronavirus," the memo states.

The NBA has been suspended since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive to COVID-19. Gobert's teammate Donovan Mitchell, Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood and Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart have also tested positive to the virus.

Kevin Durant was one of four Brooklyn Nets players to have contracted the virus in March, along with two unnamed Los Angeles Lakers players. In the same month, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets both announced members of their organizations had tested positive to coronavirus, but neither team confirmed whether any of their players were affected.

It is understood all the individuals who first tested positive for the virus have since made a complete recovery.

The memo also added the NBA anticipates league-wide testing once teams return to training.

Like the other major U.S. leagues, the NBA is slowly trying to figure out how to safely get back up and running in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the league said teams will not be allowed to have players working out at their facilities until May 8 at the earliest.

There will, however, be a number of strict guidelines teams will have to adhere to next week: players will only be allowed to use facilities in areas where shelter-in-place orders have been lifted and will not be permitted to work out together, with only four players allowed into the building at any one time.

Players would not be required to wear masks while practicing on the court, but all coaches would be required to wear masks and gloves at all times.

"We're going to put the health of our players and staff at the forefront," Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk told reporters earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the NBA was among the leagues represented on a conference call with Seema Verma, an administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, who reiterated President Donald Trump remains committed to bringing sports back as soon as it is safe to do so.

However, she added the president would allow leagues to resume only in a way that followed guidelines set out by health experts.

On the same day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, admitted it may be very difficult for some sports to return this season.

"Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything," he was quoted as saying by The New York Times.

"If you can't guarantee safety, then, unfortunately, you're going to have to bite the bullet and say: 'We may have to go without this sport for this season.'"

As of Friday morning, over a million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world.

Over 63,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and almost 154,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Almost 233,400 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 3.2 million confirmed cases globally.

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A detailed view of the Spalding basketball on the court during the first half in a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on February 25 in Los Angeles, California. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty