For the first time in 11 days, Alex Caruso got to suit up for the Los Angeles Lakers in their 118-109 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. While the result obviously wasn’t what he or the team wanted, for Caruso — who had missed the team’s last five games due to being isolated as a result of the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols — it was surely nice just to get a chance to play basketball again.
And while the vague “health and safety protocols” designator he was held out with led to some speculation about whether Caruso had actually contracted COVID-19 or not, in case the fact that he was only out for less than two weeks didn’t make it clear, Caruso confirmed that he did not test positive, and explained the situation that led to him being held out to reporters after the game.
Alex Caruso said he was in the health and safety protocols due to contract tracing after some he knew and trusted "stopped by" after Christmas and tested positive a couple days later. Caruso missed five games before returning to the lineup tonight vs. San Antonio.— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 8, 2021
Alex Caruso said he never tested positive for coronavirus, but someone he had seen around Christmas tested positive and he was put into protocols because of contact tracing. Says the NBA has a good handle on how to deal with COVID-19 but it's frustrating timing for him.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 8, 2021
According to CDC guidelines, a 10-day quarantine with a negative test is enough to (likely) confirm that a person did not contract the virus after being exposed. NBA players are tested every day, and Caruso was out for 11 days. Plus, if the person saw him around Christmas, he had pretty much cleared the normal two week window the virus can take to start to give someone symptoms anyway.
This is good news, both for the Lakers — who get one of their better players back at the cost of only a few games — and just on a human level for Caruso, who doesn’t have to deal with the uncertainty that comes with a positive test, considering that no one knows exactly how seriously the still-new disease will affect them.
Unfortunately, because of the situation our country — and L.A. County especially — are currently facing, this likely won’t be the last scare the Lakers have this year. Caruso and the team dodged a bullet here, but they’ll have to be ready for more. For now though, this is as good of news as possible, and this year, we have to take our good news where we can find it.