NBA Reportedly Advised Teams Not to Test Asymptomatic Personnel for COVID-19

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2020

Basketballs sit in a rack on the court during a training session by the Brooklyn Nets at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Brooklyn Nets will play two regular season games in Mexico City, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, and the Miami Heat on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

As the NBA works toward a potential return to basketball amid the coronavirus pandemic, it reportedly sent a memo to teams asking them not to test asymptomatic players and staff.  

Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported the news, noting the memo was sent Thursday night.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski further reported NBA Commissioner Adam Silver does not want the NBA to take up tens of thousands of tests if the general public and healthcare workers are struggling to be tested across the country. 

"Once the NBA shared its guidelines with teams on protocols for bringing players into the facility for workouts, it prohibited the use of tests on players unless they were showing Covid-19 symptoms," Wojnarowski wrote.

While Wojnarowski's report acknowledged "an overwhelming majority of high-level officials remain encouraged and optimistic that basketball will return this season," the league also believes it will need approximately 15,000 tests to finish its 2019-20 season and further ensure the safety of players and staff members.

Bontemps provided more details included in the memo, noting it comes after the league was widely criticized for testing so many players in March when such tests were so difficult to obtain for many in the public at large.

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

The memo, which explained the NBA is looking into potentially implementing leaguewide testing when it can, also urges teams to work with medical experts and follow CDC guidelines when determining if a player or staff member will be tested.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 with no current plan in place for a return.

Wojnarowski noted the possibility of playing games at Disney World in Orlando "has gained momentum" given the readily available hotel rooms and courts.