New York Mayor Hits Out at NBA Players Testing for Coronavirus 'While There Are Critically Ill Patients Waiting'

New York City mayor Bill De Blasio has hit out at NBA players getting tested for coronavirus ahead of the general public, suggesting tests should not be exclusive to rich and famous people.

De Blasio's comments came after news emerged on Tuesday afternoon that four Brooklyn Nets players including Kevin Durant had tested positive to COVID-19, bringing the total tally to NBA players to have tested positive to the virus to seven.

The Nets released a statement saying the entire team had undergone testing, which De Blasio suggested showed a lack of respect for ordinary people who were waiting to be tested.

"We wish them [Nets] a speedy recovery," the New York City mayor tweeted.

"But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.

"Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.

Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick. https://t.co/7uQlL3zc7Z

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 17, 2020

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told Newsweek: "Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players' direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus.

"Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive. Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly."

The U.S. has come under criticism for the limited amount of testing available, due to a series of technical and manufacturing glitches.

In early February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shipped approximately 160,000 tests to its labs across the U.S. By comparison, the World Health Organization said it had dispatched 250,000 tests to 70 laboratories worldwide.

More worryingly, a large number of the test kits produced in the U.S. were since deemed faulty as they delivered confusing results and CDC reported only 200 tests were used by laboratories in the U.S. in three weeks through to the end of February.

Last week, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was particularly blunt about the state of testing in the U.S.

"The system is not really geared to what we need right now," he said during a White House meeting.

"That is a failing. Let's admit it."

The Nets did not identify the players and said the quartet was isolated and receiving medical care from team doctors. Of the four, the Nets added, only one player was showing symptoms.

"All players and members of the Nets travel party are being asked to remain isolated, closely monitor their health and maintain constant communication with team medical staff," the Nets said in a statement.

"The health of our players and staff is of the highest priority to the organization, and the team is doing everything within its power to ensure that those affected receive the best care possible."

Durant subsequently revealed he was one of the players to have tested positive to coronavirus, telling The Athletic he felt fine and was not showing any symptoms.

"Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine," the two-time NBA Finals MVP said.

"We're going to get through this."

The four Nets players join Utah Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood as the seven NBA players to have tested positive.

The Nets did not play the Jazz nor the Pistons in the two weeks before the NBA suspended the season last Wednesday after Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive to the virus.

The Nets' last game was on March 10 against the Los Angeles Lakers and ESPN reported Lakers players will undergo testing on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, almost 6,500 cases have been reported in the U.S., with 114 deaths and 17 people recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

The state of New York has confirmed 1,708 cases with 16 deaths.

Almost 8,000 people have died since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 198,000 cases globally, with 79,000 recovered.

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets smiles during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 10 in Los Angeles, California. Durant is one of four Nets players to have tested for positive for coronavirus. Harry How/Getty