As the NBA continues to face the reality of trying to play the 2020-21 regular season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA sent a memo to teams on Wednesday night detailing plans to try and complete the tests already in place for players and referees with game tests located in the 28 cities of the NBA.
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 results with the teams over the weekend with the aim of starting implementing the additional tests next week. The goal is to find a local Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test provider who can perform at least 40 tests – enough to handle players from both teams, as well as overnight referees – that could be collected. the morning 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 manages the two daily tests the NBA already uses – PCR and a rapid test – will continue to be the league’s testing service, the goal of finding local tests in each city is to ensure that in the event of a problem with the transportation of the tests, a save option is available to ensure that everyone is free to participate in tonight’s game.
In the current system, for a player or a referee to participate in a match, they must have a negative PCR test the day before the match and a negative rapid test by the morning of the match. So, for example, players and referees participating in Thursday’s game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers are expected 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 that the processing time for these tests is around 12 hours, so results usually come overnight. In cities where there is a biorference lab, however, these test results can be reversed more quickly.
The additional testing comes following the acceptance by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association to tighten the league’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, including, among other things, the closure of rooms to non-owned guests. not to the team in road hotels, thus increasing the use of masks. and further limit team meeting times and contact with players. All of this is being done as the NBA tries to play out its season during a pandemic that continues to rage across the country and has dramatically disrupted the league’s schedule in recent days.
The NBA has now 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.