Although the NBA is drawing ever closer to its targeted July 30 restart date, a sizable contingent of its players has voiced concern about resuming the 2019-20 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and worldwide call for an end to racial injustice. The former has reportedly become a major point of concern more recently as reported cases of coronavirus infection in Florida — where the league will conclude the season — have reached record highs.
According to Zach Lowe and Baxter Holmes of ESPN, team executives and league office staff have also been fearful of the surge as 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams prepare to travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, where the remainder of the campaign will be played out in a bubble environment at the Wide World of Sports Complex.
Florida has become a COVID-19 hot spot in recent weeks, with the number of infections growing at a particularly troubling rate over the last several days. On Saturday, 4,049 new cases were added, which broke a record that had been set just one day earlier. In fact, new single-day records for reported case numbers have been set in seven of the past 10 days per the Florida Department of Health.
Lowe and Holmes have reported that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged the surging case numbers in at least one conference call with top team executives recently. One of their sources indicated that Silver’s tone on that call was “resolute but somber.” In spite of the growing concern, though, Silver seems committed to carrying on with the restart and has reportedly expressed confidence in the league’s bubble environment and the precautions that are being taken.
Still, while players, team officials, and other staff members will be screened frequently for COVID-19 and must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, concern remains about workers at the Disney World campus, including team hotels. The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) held a virtual town hall recently, during which several players reportedly expressed concern about those workers not being held to the same standard.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN that the league will be “closely monitoring the data in Florida and Orange County and will continue to work collaboratively with the National Basketball Players Association, public health officials and medical experts regarding our plans.”
As reported previously by The Inquisitr, the NBA is set to initiate its COVID-19 testing procedure on June 23 and will screen players, coaches, and staff every other day from that point until teams arrive in Orlando early next month, at which point they will be subjected to daily testing.