The NBA plans to end daily COVID-19 for players, coaches and other “Tier 1” personnel beginning this weekend, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Those with symptoms will still be tested, as will those who have been exposed to the virus. Charania added that the league office still holds the authority to require a test if it deems one necessary.
Teams were informed by the league of the decision Thursday, per Charania.
More than 500 positive tests have been returned among Tier 1 staffers this season, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Of those positive tests, more than 450 have come within the last month, Holmes added.
Each of the 30 teams has had multiple players enter health and safety protocols, leading to widespread signings of veteran free agents and G Leaguers to 10-day hardship contract extensions. It has resulted in the more player movement than at any point in NBA history, and at just the midway point of the regular-season schedule.
Through Jan. 11, more than 300 players had entered protocols, Holmes reported.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently told ESPN that the league is about 97 percent vaccinated.
“We have a lot of data we look at. In terms of players and coaches that have gone through the three-shot protocol, meaning the two mRNA shots and then the booster, and then past two weeks, only a very small number of those people have been breakthrough cases where they’ve turned positive,” Silver told ESPN in late December. “And they essentially have been asymptomatic or very mild symptoms. We’re also dealing with a large group that either have one J&J shot or haven’t been boosted yet.
“I would just say to our community, really to everyone, at least based on the data the NBA has, that the boosters are highly effective, and we are strongly encouraging everyone to get them. In fact, in our league right now, we’re around 97% vaccinated, but we’re up to about 65% of our players have been boosted and we’re in active discussions with the players’ association to get that number even higher.
“So we’re not, in terms of your question, in essence whether we can treat this as endemic, and people begin to move on and we only test those that are symptomatic and deal with those, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re paying a lot of attention to what other leagues are doing.”