As the NBA continues to grapple with the reality of attempting to play the 2020-21 regular season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA sent a memo to teams Wednesday night detailing plans to attempt to supplement. tests that already exist for players and umpires with localized game-day tests in all 28 NBA cities.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, asks each team to spend the next two days trying to find local test providers; The League plans to discuss those findings with teams over the weekend with the goal of starting to roll out the additional tests sometime next week. The goal is to find a local provider of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that can run at least 40 tests, enough to handle the players from both teams, as well as the referees that night, who could collect the tomorrow of a game. and returned at least an hour before the start of the game.
PCR tests are more accurate than rapid tests, but take much longer to process.
While Bioreference, which handles the two daily tests that the NBA is already using, PCR and a rapid test, will remain the League’s testing service, the goal of finding local tests in each city is to ensure that, in the event If there is a problem with the transportation of the evidence, there is a backup option available to ensure that everyone is free to participate in the game that night.
Under the current system, in order for a player or referee to be able to participate in a game, they must have a negative PCR test from the day before the game and a negative rapid test from the morning of the game. So, for example, players and umpires participating in Thursday’s game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers would have to have a negative PCR test on Wednesday and a negative rapid test on Thursday morning.
The reason the negative PCR test is from the day before is because there is approximately a 12 hour turnaround time on those tests, so the results are usually obtained overnight. However, in cities where there is a Bioreference laboratory, test results can be obtained faster.
The additional evidence comes as the NBA and the National Association of Basketball Players agreed to toughen the League’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, including, among other things, closing rooms to non-team guests at roadside hotels, increasing the use of masks and further limiting times of team meeting and contact with players. All of this is being done as the NBA tries to play its season during a pandemic that continues to sweep across the country and has significantly disrupted the league’s schedule in recent days.
The NBA has postponed nine games this season, including eight this week alone. Three of them were scheduled for Wednesday: the Orlando Magic at the Boston Celtics, the Utah Jazz at the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks at the Phoenix Suns.