For COVID-19 tracing purposes, the NBA follows CDC guidelines, defining “close exposure” as having spent 15 or more minutes within six feet of someone who tests positive for the virus. As Tim Cato and Jared Weiss of The Athletic explain, league research has shown this doesn’t happen during games, where players don’t spend more than five or six total minutes within six feet of any one player. That’s why teams aren’t required to fully isolate following one positive test.
However, applying CDC guidelines – which are meant to cover average circumstances – to NBA games without accounting for all the extenuating factors in play may be risky, infectious disease physician Dr. Amesh Adalja tells The Athletic.
“We know that when people are engaged in athletic activity they’re often breathing faster,” Adalja said. “(It’s) more likely for more viral droplets to emanate during high intensity exercise, especially in indoor environments where people are less than six feet apart.”
As Cato and Weiss note, there haven’t been any confirmed examples of on-court transmission of COVID-19 between opposing NBA teams. If that does happen, the league may have to make some tough decisions, since applying week-long contact tracing protocols to entire squads following a positive test would make it difficult to continue playing games at all.
Here are more updates on how COVID-19 is affecting the NBA:
- Some team executives are hoping to revisit the possibility of expanding rosters as a way to avoid COVID-related postponements, says Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), the argument against adding more roster spots is that, as one exec put it: “More players means more risk.”
- After missing Saturday’s game due to the health and safety protocols, Bradley Beal will be available for the Wizards on Monday, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.
- The Rockets said today that Danuel House has been ruled out for the time being due to the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
- As the NBA considers ways to potentially tighten its coronavirus protocols, its primary areas of concern are what happens on team benches, in locker rooms, and on planes, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).