ORLANDO • The first week of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) “bubble” plan to keep its teams safe from the coronavirus has proved successful.
The league and players’ union announced on Monday that only two players among the 322 tested since arriving on July 7 at the Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida were found to have contracted the Covid-19 disease.
The announcement said that the two infected players “never cleared quarantine and have since left the campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing”.
It added that another 19 players had tested positive for Covid-19 during in-market testing that began on July 1 before teams headed to the resort.
According to the NBA and the players’ union, “these players are staying in their home markets and recovering until they are cleared under Centres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and NBA rules for leaving home isolation and joining the campus”.
One of those players is Houston Rockets star and 2017 Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook.
Said the guard on his Instagram account on Monday: “I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up.”
It is unclear when he will be able to join the Rockets for training camp, with the season set to resume on July 30, as it is not known when his quarantine period began.
According to the NBA’s guidebook on health protocols, he will be allowed to enter the “bubble” when he tests negatively for Covid-19 in two separate tests at least 24 hours apart.
The 31-year-old must also be cleared by a league-approved infectious disease physician and undergo a cardiac screening.
The positive test rate of 0.6 percent, with all cases not occurring within the “bubble”, does show the NBA is largely succeeding in keeping its players isolated from the outbreak that is gripping Florida.
The state reported a record 15,299 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday – the highest mark produced in any American state at any point since the pandemic’s outset in March – and the numbers only dipped to 12,624 new cases on Monday.
But as the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex – which is where the rest of the regular season and playoffs will be staged – has been closed off to the public with strict safety measures imposed, NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes players and staff will be safer in the “bubble” than elsewhere.
However, he is not taking any chances, telling Fortune magazine: “What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we had any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue.”
As such, the league announced on Monday that two players, Houston forward Bruno Caboclo and Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes, had been given an additional 10 days of self-quarantine after exiting the “bubble” without permission.
Holmes reportedly went to pick up a food delivery, while Caboclo left his hotel room even though he was supposed to be confined.