The National Basketball Association is perturbed about the false positive tests for players and has decided to make a change before the season reaches the playoffs. They have introduced antibody testing in addition to viral testing. Play is supposed to resume on July 30 with 22 teams in central Florida to each play eight regular-season games making it a total of 16-team playoffs.
The return-to-play plan now has room for antibody testing because of concerns about the false positive and negative tests
The league’s memo requires players to test negative, twice in 24 hours, at least 14 days must have passed from the latter of their first positive test or the resolution of their symptoms. They are also expected to return a positive antibody test within 30 days and must have passed a negative rapid test before taking part in close, physical contact with other people.
These steps were reviewed by an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist who works with the NBA and the league’s players’ association.
The league has added antibody blood testing to viral testing, so what exactly is Antibody testing? This test checks your blood for proteins or antibodies, which may tell you if you had a past infection with the virus that causes Covid-19. If you test positive as required by the league, it means your blood still has antibodies that can protect you from getting infected again, and testing negative means you may not have had the coronavirus.
The NBA started considering antibody testing in May as suggested by Mayo Clinic, and the clinic had announced in April that they had made these Covid-19 serology tests available to understand better the prevalence of the virus among players and staff
“A positive serology result suggests the patient is less likely to get infected or reinfected compared with individuals who do not have antibodies in their blood. However, we are continuing to learn about the level and duration of protective immunity that may last”.
It is quite evident that the NBA is doing all it can to bring basketball back to life, even amidst the pandemic, they started with postponing all activities earlier this year to testing players and staff regularly, adding some more protocols including the very recent antibody testing.
Updates on the number of players that will be sitting out
Despite these numerous precautionary measures put in place to protect and sustain the health of players and staff, some players are unsure and are in a dilemma as to whether they want to risk their health and that of their families to play or opt-out of the season.
Many of them are opting out, of course. Three days ago, a total of 10 players have decided not to go to Orlando to play, they gave several reasons, but the most outstanding reason is family.
Most of these players will not leave their families for the world. “The health and well-being of my family have to come first,” says Nets Wilson Chandler. Maverick’s Willie Cauley-Stein and his partner are expecting a baby in July. Lakers’ Avery Bradley told ESPN Wojnarowski that “as committed to my lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family and so at a time like this, I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk.”
As of today, July 16, Orlando has recorded a total number of 302,000 cases, with over 4000 deaths. They haven’t seemed to flatten their curve since the beginning of the outbreak, for this reason, we can understand these players that prefer to sit home with their families
Victor Oladipo initially decided to sit out but has considered his decision after practicing a few times, “coming down here and getting some practices in, getting my feet under me, going out there and playing with the guys, there’s a possibility that I could play. I am just reassessing myself and my body every day.”
And to the players who have decided to play, their health and safety are very important. The playoffs can even be postponed if needed, and it shouldn’t always be in the interest of sports or fans, player safety is crucial.