The NBA has adjusted its policy for players who receive inconclusive results following a COVID-19 test, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the change in protocol is designed to reduce the likelihood of a player missing a game due to a false positive.
According to Wojnarowski, the league’s new plan is for a player who gets an inconclusive result to get clearance in as little as 24 hours — to do so, he must return a negative test right away and then return a second negative within 60 minutes of the scheduled tipoff of his team’s next game.
Previously, the NBA’s policy called for a two-day quarantine following an inconclusive test or false positive, with the player required to return a pair of negative tests at least 24 hours apart to receive clearance. As we detailed last week, teams around the league were concerned about the possibility that that process would be too slow to clear a healthy player in time for an important game.
With the exception of a couple players who tested positive during their initial quarantine when they arrived in Orlando last month, the NBA has yet to have a player test positive for the coronavirus on its Walt Disney World campus.
However, with players being tested daily and inconclusive test results occurring in approximately one in 200 tests, per Wojnarowski, it seems inevitable that false positives could become an issue at some point during the seeding games or postseason. The league’s protocol adjustment should reduce the odds of such an incident affecting a player’s availability for his next game.