NBA, NBPA Reportedly Agree to Revised Covid-19 Protocols amid Spike in Cases

Erin WalshDecember 17, 2021

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 08: A detail of the 75th anniversary NBA logo prior to the game between the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks at FTX Arena on December 08, 2021 in Miami, Florida. 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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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The NBA and NBA Players Association have reportedly agreed to new COVID-19 protocols for the Christmas and New Year's holidays following a rise in the number of players placed in the league's protocols this month, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

The use of masks will reportedly increase, and all players and Tier 1 personnel will undergo daily testing from Dec. 26 to Jan. 8, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. No one will be tested on off days, while "fully boosted or recently recovered players are exempt from testing," Charania added. 

The move should come as no surprise, as the NBA also instituted stricter protocols around Thanksgiving. All players and Tier 1 personnel, regardless of vaccination status, had to be tested daily Nov. 28-30. 

As of Wednesday morning, 60 players had entered the league's health and safety protocols this season, including 43 over the past two weeks, per ESPN's Baxter Holmes.

Several teams are in the midst of outbreaks, including the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets. The Nets are currently without seven players, while the Bulls have seen two games postponed because of COVID-19. 

In addition, some of the league's best players are currently in COVID-19 protocols, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. 

The NBA isn't the only professional league in the United States experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases. The NFL reported 88 cases between Monday and Tuesday, while the NHL has seen more than two dozen players added to the COVID-19 list since Monday. 

The NFL recently implemented new protocols through Week 15, including increased mask wearing, social distancing, grab-and-go meal service in team cafeterias, all-virtual meetings and more, regardless of vaccination status. The NHL also agreed to similar enhanced protocols.

With more stringent protocols, it seems unlikely that leagues will pause their seasons on account of COVID-19. However, there's always a possibility it could happen.