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The NBA will have a bubble in place when the 2019-20 season, which has been suspended since March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, returns with 22 teams finishing the campaign out at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in July.
However, not everyone in the bubble is subject to the same rules, with Disney staffers able to work and leave without being subject to testing.
That brought up some concerns in a recent National Basketball Players Association virtual meeting, which Baxter Holmes and Zach Lowe of ESPN relayed:
“The National Basketball Players Association held a virtual town hall with players this week and addressed concerns about the Florida cases, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ESPN. Players brought up the fact that Walt Disney World staffers who will not reside in the NBA campus—including hotel housekeeping—will not be subject to any coronavirus testing, sources said. One mitigating factor that was cited, a source added: many of the surging cases are in areas other than Orlando.“
Players who leave the NBA’s area in Walt Disney World will be subject to a 10-14 day quarantine upon their return, creating a situation where they will have to remain in the bubble or risk missing multiple games.
The COVID-19 numbers in Florida have seen a massive rise in June. Per the state’s official data and surveillance board, 603 new cases were confirmed on June 1. That number topped 4,000 on Friday, marking the third consecutive day in which the state saw a record high in one day.
Naturally, that creates some concern for players. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts made the following statement to ESPN when asked about Florida’s rising COVID-19 figures:
“Can’t say I am surprised, given the state’s approach to reopening. We are obviously clearly monitoring the situation. While we take some solace in knowing our players will not travel commercially to get to Orlando, that access to the campus is severely limited and, of course, all of the other health and safety protocols in place, the numbers will keep our attention. If necessary to add further restrictions respecting those third parties having access to the campus, we will seek to implement them.”
Baxter and Lowe clarified Roberts’ remarks on “third parties,” noting she “meant Disney staffers who will be servicing the hotels where teams are staying or providing other services on the campus.”
It’s unclear what restrictions could be imposed on Disney staffers since they are unionized, per Roberts, and that thought was echoed by some NBA executives, per Lowe and Holmes.
Teams are scheduled to arrive at Walt Disney World from July 7-9, per Lowe and Holmes. Twenty-two of the league’s 30 teams will take part in the restart: the 16 currently in the playoff picture and six others within six games of the postseason in the Eastern or Western Conferences.
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