Report: NBA Discovered 1st Player Case of Omicron Variant in Recent COVID-19 Testing

Adam WellsDecember 15, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 08: A detailed view of the Wilson basketball uses during an NBA basketball game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on December 08, 2021 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Amid a recent surge of positive COVID-19 tests among NBA players, the Omicron variant has been discovered among them. 

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the league's first known player case of the Omicron variant came up "in a recent positive COVID-19 test."

Per CDC.gov, given the low number of Omicron-variant cases across the country at this point, more data is still needed to determine if "infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did note that current COVID-19 vaccines "are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant."

Per Peter Sullivan of The Hill, the CDC estimated the Omicron variant accounted for 2.9 percent of all COVID cases for the week from Dec. 5-11 and the total is "expected to rise quickly given the sharp spikes in Omicron in other countries."

Per ESPN's Baxter Holmes, as of Tuesday, the NBA had a total of 51 players enter the health and safety protocols. 

From that group, 36 players have been entered into the protocol within the past two weeks.

The NBA announced on Monday that the Chicago Bulls' games against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and Toronto Raptors on Thursday were postponed because the team didn't have enough players to field a team. 

That announcement came after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Alize Johnson had been entered into health and safety protocols. He became the 10th Bulls player in the protocol. 

The Brooklyn Nets played Tuesday's scheduled contest against the Toronto Raptors with eight players available—the minimum allowed by the NBA to play a game. They had seven players enter the health and safety protocols in a 24-hour period, including James Harden and Bruce Brown. 

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Tuesday they canceled their practice after Talen Horton-Tucker returned a positive COVID test. Malik Monk and Dwight Howard were entered into the health and safety protocol later that night. 

Holmes noted that team executive and health officials within the NBA are expecting more players will have be placed into the health and safety protocols through the start of the new year "due to the likelihood of increasing cases of COVID-19 nationwide as people gather indoors for the holidays."