Players from Five NBA Teams Told to Self Quarantine after Rudy Gobert Tests Positive to Coronavirus

Players from five NBA teams have been told to self-quarantine after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for coronavirus.

The Jazz were scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road on Wednesday night, but the game was postponed shortly before tipoff after news emerged a player had tested positive for COVID-19.

The team said in a statement that an unnamed player had "tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection.

"The individual's symptoms diminished over the course of [Wednesday], however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19."

As early as Monday, Gobert appeared to make light of the panic surrounding coronavirus. A clip posted on social media shows him touching all of the microphones placed on the table in front of him as he left a press conference.

In the video, the 2020 All-Star selection can be seen getting up to leave the room, before rushing back to wipe his hands over all the microphones and recording devices.

ESPN reported players that have faced the Jazz over the last 10 days have been told to self-quarantine. Over that period, the Jazz have faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.

Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier said he had reached out to Gobert, suggesting his France teammate was in good spirits and that fans shouldn't panic.

Was just on the phone with Rudy. He is doing good man. Lets not panick everyone. Love you all❤️

— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) March 12, 2020

Shortly after news of Gobert's positivity emerged, the NBA immediately suspended the season until further notice.

"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday's schedule of games until further notice," the NBA wrote in a statement posted to its website. "The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.''

Earlier in the day, the Golden State Warriors had announced they would play their home game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night behind closed doors after the local government banned large gatherings of people to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The NBA had previously taken steps to control the spread of the virus and earlier this week, along with the MLB, NHL, and MLS it decided to close locker room access to reporters.

Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! 🤦🏾‍♂️. Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe🙏🏾

— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 12, 2020

In a memo directed to teams last week, the NBA urged the franchises to consider contingency plans to minimize the number of people congregating in one venue.

A separate document, detailed how players should opt to fist-bumps fans instead of high-fiving them and should refrain from taking pens from strangers to sign autographs.

News of the NBA season being suspended comes on the same day the NCAA announced it would hold its March Madness tournament behind closed doors.

"While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.

"This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes."

A number European countries have adopted similar policies as the world struggles to contain COVID-19.

Games in the Spanish and French soccer leagues will go ahead without fans for the next two weeks, while all sporting events in Italy have been suspended until April 3.

Over the last two days, Valencia and Paris Saint-Germain played their home ties in the round of 16 of Champions League against Atalanta and Borussia Dortmund behind closed doors.

As of Thursday morning, over 1,300 cases have been reported in the U.S., with 38 deaths and eight people recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 4,600 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 126,000 cases globally, with 68,000 recovered.

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz dunks during the third quarter of the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 6 in Boston, Massachusetts. Omar Rawlings/Getty

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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