After reports initially surfaced on Wednesday that the NBA was moving towards playing its games in arenas without fans as a response to the looming threat of COVID-19 — better known as the coronavirus — the league announced later in the evening that it was suspending the season “until further notice” because a player on the Utah Jazz had tested positive for coronavirus.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, that player was Rudy Gobert:
Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert has tested positive for coronavirus, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 12, 2020
Sources say Gobert is feeling good, strong and stable — and was feeling strong enough to play tonight.
Here is the full statement from the NBA:
The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.
The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.
And the concern grows as teams that have played the Jazz in the last 10 days have been told to self quarantine. https://t.co/u4evw5E7BO— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) March 12, 2020
At the suspension of play, the Los Angeles Lakers had 19 games left to play in their season, held the best record in the Western Conference (49-14), and were slated to take on the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on Thursday. They were also scheduled to play the Jazz twice next week.
Those matchups will obviously no longer happen, and it remains to be seen if it they be rescheduled, or cancelled entirely. For now, the Lakers are offering refunds with the promise of more information on Thursday. Teams will still be allowed to practice but have been told they should not have visitors from out of town, according to Dallas Mavericks team governor Mark Cuban.
The players on the team appear to be reacting to the news in real time along with the rest of us:
Lakers players are still waiting on word from the team for the next steps to follow during the NBA suspension, sources tell ESPN. Players learned of the league’s hiatus on Twitter, and then communicated on their group chat, sources said.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 12, 2020
Prior to the news, there was a report that Lakers guard Dion Waiters would suit up for the South Bay Lakers on Friday, but the G League has also suspended its season, so that will not happen.
South Bay played its game as normal on Thursday.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the decision to release a patient who has tested positive for coronavirus from isolation “is made on a case by case basis,” and the patient must meet all of the following requirements:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
For people who were potentially exposed to the coronavirus, the CDC says that “the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.”
So, at minimum, it seems unlikely the NBA would resume play sooner than two weeks from now, and it appears likely that this suspension of play will last even longer given the apparent seriousness of the coronavirus threat.
As a reminder, the CDC is asking people to:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
For more information on the coronavirus, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.