For NBA players, the options will be simple next season: get vaccinated or get frequent tests.
The league informed teams on Tuesday that it will continue with a plan in which those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will not need to undergo regular tests. Those who are not immunized will instead need rigorous testing – a test on practice or travel days, and at least one test on game days.
The teams received the parameters of the plan at the beginning of the month. The league, in a memo obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, revealed more details to the clubs about how the tests will work.
Most of the tests performed this season will be administered by Cue Health, which provides rapid molecular tests and processes them through mobile technology in 20 minutes.
The tests that will qualify unvaccinated players to be in the game will be of the PCR type, the league indicated.
There will be times when vaccinated players will need to be tested, such as showing symptoms of COVID-19. There is also the possibility that vaccinated players may have to undergo weekly tests during training camp, although discussions on this issue continue.
The NBA Players Association has not forced players to get vaccinated even though the league expected this to be the case. All those who are near the players during this campaign’s games – coaches, staff, referees, field workers and others – will be vaccinated.
The NBA indicated that 85% of players were vaccinated before the end of the previous season. Teams begin training camps on September 28.
Other provisions for unvaccinated players include the obligation to wear masks on team premises and during travel. The teams were also told that they will have to rearrange the venues in each situation – trips, meals, meetings and even locker rooms – to ensure that unvaccinated players are not sitting next to each other.
It will be possible to consider some exceptions for those who cannot be vaccinated for religious or medical reasons, the NBA said.
In the United States, deaths and cases of COVID-19 are at levels not seen since last winter. The United States currently averages 1,800 deaths and 170,000 new cases a day, the highest levels respectively since March and late January.
Last week President Joe Biden ordered that all employers with more than 100 workers require weekly vaccinations or testing.