"Out of an abundance of caution, having completed contact tracing, we are closing our practice facility today for deep cleaning while we run confirmatory tests," president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement.
When the NBA returned last season from its coronavirus hiatus, it did so in a bubble environment created at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. While an unconventional setup, it was one that worked, allowing the league to finish its regular season and postseason with very few COVID-related complications.
Asking every team and its players, coaches and staff members to go into a bubble environment and leave their families behind for the 72-game regular season, however—or at least until a vaccine is approved and distributed publicly—would have been a much more unrealistic request.
So the NBA will attempt to have games played in individual cities, adding travel and, in limited cases, fans n attendance. That, in turn, will add additional complications, similar to what Major League Baseball dealt with and the NFL is currently dealing with this fall, among other leagues operating during the pandemic.
All of that is to say that the Blazers closing their practice facility is likely an early indicator of how the coronavirus will affect this season, or the early part of the season. In the NFL, we've seen a number of star players miss games, the schedule adjusted and outbreaks emerge within individual teams.
And the NBA will be starting its season amidst COVID-19 cases skyrocketing around the United States. Per CNN, the country has seen a million new coronavirus cases in the first five days of December alone. That brings the total cases in the United States since the start of the pandemic to 14,634,911, leading to 281,513 deaths.
President-elect Joe Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper that he would be asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days when he takes office in January.