As the NBA continues to face the reality of attempts to play the 2020-21 regular season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league sent a note to teams Wednesday night with detailed plans to try to supplement the testing already in place for players and referees with local game day testing in all 28 NBA cities.
The note, a copy of which was received from ESPN, required each team to spend the next two days trying to find local test providers; the league plans to discuss these findings with the teams over the weekend in order to begin implementing additional tests sometime next week. The intention is to find a local provider of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that can reverse at least 40 tests ̵
PCR tests are more accurate than rapid tests, but they take much longer to process.
While BioReference – which handles both daily tests that the NBA already uses (PCR and rapid test) – will continue to be a league testing service, the goal in finding local testing in each city is to ensure that in If there is a problem with transportation tests, there is a backup option available to ensure that everyone is clear to participate in this nightly game.
According to the current system, in order for players or referees to participate in a game, they must have a negative PCR test from the day before the game and a negative fast test from the morning of the game. For example, players and referees taking part in Thursday’s game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers will have to take a negative PCR test on Wednesday and a negative quick test on Thursday morning.
The reason the PCR test is from the previous day is that there is approximately a 12-hour processing time for these tests, so the results usually come overnight. However, in cities with a BioReference laboratory, these test results can be reversed more quickly.
Additional testing comes after the NBA and the National Basketball Association agreed Tuesday to tighten health and safety protocols in the league, including, among other things, closing guest rooms that are not a team at road hotels, increasing usage of masks and further limitation of both the time for team meetings and the contact with the player. All of this is being done as the NBA tries to play its season during a pandemic that continues to rage across the country and has significantly disrupted the league’s schedule over the past few days.
The NBA has now postponed nine games this season, including eight this week alone. Three were scheduled for Wednesday: the Orlando Magic at the Boston Celtics; Utah Jazz in Washington Wires; and the Atlanta Hawks in the Phoenix Suns.