In a joint statement with the NBPA, the league announced that 48 out of 546 players tested from Nov. 24-30 were infected with the coronavirus. It marked the first set of widespread testing in the league since the conclusion of the 2019-20 season.
A similar round of testing in June ahead of the league’s Disney World bubble resulted in a 5.3 percent positivity rate (16 of 320 players). COVID-19 is spreading at a higher rate now across the United States. That trend is true among NBA players as well.
New season, new COVID-19 challenges for NBA
After running a successful bubble season in Florida, the NBA is scheduled to restart on Dec. 22 facing an entirely new set of pandemic challenges. The league successfully isolated players who tested positive during the summer and kept COVID-19 from impacting the bubble. Once players and staff entered the bubble, the league reported zero cases on its campus through the end of the season.
This time, COVID-19 is more widespread. And there won’t be a bubble. Teams will travel from city to city and play in NBA arenas as usual. Players and team staff won’t be isolated from the outside world. Those who test positive will be isolated in accordance with CDC guidelines, according to the NBA.
The NBA will also face the challenge of playing in an indoor sport at the height of an airborne pandemic.
Football has struggled with COVID-19
College football and the NFL have both struggled to contain COVID-19 among their players in a sport that’s largely played outdoors. Outbreaks have wreaked havoc on football at both levels, causing illness and forcing the postponements and cancellations of games.
Pandemic is getting worse
NBA preseason games start on Dec. 11.
The pandemic is only expected to worsen during winter. The United States surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in a single day for the first time on Wednesday. Hospitalizations have more than tripled since Oct. 1, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Robert Redfield predicted on Wednesday that “close to 450,000 Americans” would be dead from COVID-19 by February. As of Wednesday, the United States claimed 273,000 of the planet’s 1.49 million COVID-19 deaths (18.3 percent) and 13.9 million of the world’s 64.47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases (21.5 percent), per Johns Hopkins data.
More from Yahoo Sports: