As the NBA continues to find ways to use its platform in the fight against racial injustice during the 2019-20 season restart, they have also been steadfast in addressing major health concerns that have come with playing in a bubble environment amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The prospect of having to stay within the confines of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for a few months was met with some pushback from players. Fortunately, the NBA has since spared no expense to ensure there are a wide range of activities for them on the campus.
The league also released 113-page document detailing the health and safety protocols that will be put in place for the duration of the eight regular-season seeding games along with playoffs. Although some of the restrictions involved have provided players with their own set of challenges, it appears the medical community is marveled by their efforts.
According to Mark Medina and Jeff Zillgit of USA Today, Dr. Rishi Desai praised the NBA for its safety guidelines in the return-to-play plan:
“I haven’t seen anything that’s this comprehensive from anyone. Not just the federal government, I haven’t seen state governments put anything out this comprehensive and haven’t seen any industries that’s put out something this comprehensive,” said Desai, the chief medical officer at Osmosis and an infection disease physician.
UNLV assistant professor of health Brian Labus added that keeping players and staff confined within the bubble could help contain their chances of testing positive for COVID-19:
“They’re taking the right approach,” Lobus said. “The whole idea of keeping those people in a bubble will provide a lot of protection. They can control their exposures in that case. There was nothing that really jumped out. Though they will have some challenges when they actually start to implement it, everything looks good on paper. But then you’ll realize there will be a problem, and they will have to tweak it. But they covered all the areas they’re concerned about.
“They have thought of how to physically isolate people. So even if you have the world burning around you, as long as you have that place that is safe and nothing is going on, that’s going to be enough protection. If they start to have people coming and going from the community, that’s where things would be tough.”
Although it is encouraging to see members of the medical community give the NBA its unofficial stamp of approval, there are still some concerns that must be factored in during these unprecedented times.
The NBA has already determined that players who test positive for COVID-19 or choose to leave the bubble without the league’s approval are automatically subjected to a 10- to 14-day quarantine period. They would also need to take part in enhanced testing and could lose out on payment depending on games missed.
Meanwhile, the recent spike in the reported number of coronavirus cases in Florida has seemingly forced the league to double down on their efforts to establish viable safety protocols. This could include even more restrictions being put in place after it was revealed that the company’s employees are not required to remain inside the bubble.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!