If they follow guidelines for people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, the NBA may not be resuming play anytime soon.
Two infectious disease specialists told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that athletes who test positive for COVID-19 should begin a precautionary quarantine for 14 days while they recover. Any teammates, coaches or opposing players who came in contact with the infected athlete should also be isolated for the same period of time, said professors Peter Katona of UCLA and Rebecca Katz of Georgetown.
The NBA took the unprecedented step of suspending its season on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. The indefinite hiatus will allow the league to assess how to best to move forward amid a pandemic that is wreaking havoc across the world.
As of Wednesday night, the Jazz were still quarantined inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, where they were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder. Gobert reportedly had made the trip to Oklahoma City but was not at the arena.
The Jazz last played Monday night at home against Toronto, potentially putting Raptors players who came in contact with Gobert at risk of contracting the virus. Prior to that Utah was on a four-game road trip with stops in Detroit, Boston, New York and Cleveland.
Center for Disease Control guidelines suggest that people who are mildly ill with coronavirus restrict activities outside their home, except for getting medical care. Contact with others should be limited and a facemask should be worn at all times when around other people.
Gobert certainly didn’t appear to be taking the threat of contracting coronavirus seriously during a press conference on Monday night. In an apparent effort to make a point about overreaction to the spread of the virus, Gobert made it a point to touch every mic and recorder in front of him before leaving the podium.
The coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic on Wednesday and infectious disease experts continued to advise against large public gatherings. The NCAA announced that it was barring spectators from its tournament starting next week and the NBA was considering a similar move.
“When you have a lot of people gathering in one place, you increase the chances of disease transmission,” Katona said. “We want to keep some social distancing, especially in potential hot zones or established hot zones.”
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