Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was not happy with a report suggesting that the source of an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak within his team was his staff not wearing masks.
A report from Shams Charania of The Athletic stated that the Raptors' cases were due to "inconsistent mask wearing by the coaching staff," which resulted in positive tests for several players and coaches on the team. Nurse categorically denied that suggestion, calling it "unfair" while defending his staff for strictly following health protocols.
"I don't think anybody would have any idea what they're talking about, saying that. That is unfair, very speculative thing to say," Nurse told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday.
"Our coaching staff has worked their asses off, abided by the rules as best as possible. It's not easy — players have a job to do but they're not wearing masks, the referees have a tough job to do and they aren't wearing masks, the coaches have a tough job to do and they are wearing masks."
The Raptors played their last two games without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and Pat McCaw as they were all placed into the health and safety protocol. Even after taking a week off for the All-Star break, those five will still remain out for the Raptors' game against the Hawks on Thursday. Even Nurse himself was out, along with six members of his staff. Another report indicated that at least one member of the Raptors' coaching staff was positive, but it's unclear how it spread to the rest of the team, or if the source came from elsewhere.
It's worth noting that the Raptors have temporarily relocated to Florida, which has been ravaged by COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Even as new daily cases have steadily dropped since peaking in January, the daily average for new cases for the past week is still nearing 5,000, which is over half the number of daily new cases recorded in Ontario over that same span.
Throw in the hectic nature of a compressed schedule that has the Raptors in and out of airports almost on a daily basis, and it becomes nearly impossible to trace the outbreak to a single source. Assigning blame and culpability on top of it is therefore unnecessary.
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