NBA suspends season as Rudy Gobert tests positive for coronavirus

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SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday morning, Rudy Gobert sat six feet away from reporters due to the Utah Jazz’s new media protocol to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When he got up, he made it a point to touch each recorder and mic on the table in an attempt to make light of the situation.

That night, Quin Snyder comically waved the assembled media across the new invisible barrier.

It’s all fun and games until it gets real.

On Wednesday, it got real.

Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, has confirmed, leading to the NBA announcing that the season has been suspended until further notice. The other games on Wednesday were allowed to go on — except for one. The Kings and Pelicans contest was canceled because one of the officials worked Monday’s game. The NBA's G-League also suspended the 2019-20 season on Wednesday.

“This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection,” the Jazz said in a statement. “The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of today, however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19.”

The Jazz informed the league office of the test and that led to some confusion for all involved. Moments before the Jazz and Thunder were supposed to tip off on Wednesday, both teams walked off the court at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma.

They were confused. And, yes, they were concerned.

Game officials were awaiting confirmation that the game could go on — that Gobert hadn’t tested positive for the virus. That’s when they got the bad news. The officials grabbed their coats and walked off the court and the PA announcer informed the arena crowd that the game had been postponed.

“A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game,” the Jazz statement said. “Subsequently, the decision was correctly made by the NBA to postpone the game. When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office. The health and safety of our players, our organization, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions.”

The Jazz said they are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma and Utah state officials, and the NBA to determine the best course of action going forward. Gobert is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City.

In a joint statement, Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox said that the state is working closely with the CDC and the NBA to gather information on the case.

“We, along with the Utah Department of Health, are actively working to identify how long the patient has been experiencing symptoms, and are working to identify individuals who have had close enough contact with the player as to have been potentially exposed,” the statement said.

According to an ESPN report, the NBA was already set to move forward with the season being played out without fans in attendance, but Wednesday’s news made it so the league couldn’t continue through the pandemic scare.

The Jazz and Thunder were both quarantined long after the game as they were tested for the virus, according to reports.

Utah just completed a four-game road swing through Cleveland, New York, Boston, and Detroit — all in states which have confirmed cases of the virus.

In a statement announcing the indefinite suspension of the season, the NBA said it would use the hiatus to “determine next steps moving forward in regards to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources
  • To help mitigate infectious transmission of COVID-19, health care officials advise anyone who thinks they might have the virus to first call their doctor before going to a hospital
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Cough or sneeze in your elbow or a tissue
Risk and symptoms
  • You could be at risk of having COVID-19 if you’ve recently traveled to mainland China, South Korea or, to a lesser extent, Japan, Italy and Iran
  • Infected patients typically have a fever, cough and shortness of breath

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