As the NBA tries to strengthen itself against waves of positive COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, the League will increase daily testing and use of masks for players and staff during the holiday season, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to elevate testing for two weeks beginning Dec. 26. Players and staff will be screened on game days, except for those who received their booster shot 14 days prior or recently recovered from the virus, the memo says.
Players and staff will be required to wear masks on benches, at team training facilities and while traveling with the team, the memo states.
Fifty-two players – Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, Sacramento coach Alvin Gentry and Toronto Vice President and President Masai Ujiri – entered health and safety protocols in December and there have been outbreaks in the Nets, Hornets, Bulls, Lakers and Kings.
Twenty-two players entered the protocols on Wednesday and Thursday alone.
Vaccinated players were not required to be tested during the season, but an increase in positive cases forced several teams to start testing everyone and there was an increase in cases. The NBA and NBPA are determined to continue the season uninterrupted, and sources say there have been discussions between teams about how to find easier ways to expand the rosters amid the COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Chicago Bulls had the only two NBA games canceled this week: Tuesday against Detroit and Thursday against Toronto.
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.
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NBA and NBPA toughen Covid-19 protocols