SALT LAKE CITY — On Thursday, the Utah Jazz returned to Salt Lake City.
The day after the NBA indefinitely suspended the season due to Gobert testing positive for COVID-19, teams were still trying to figure out what to do next.
Teams that had played the Jazz over the last 10 days were asked to quarantine, with some pushing for ways to be tested. The league’s Board of Governors had an already-scheduled meeting that suddenly had a much different topic to discuss. While the Jazz had to grapple with the fact that Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, their two All-Stars, are the first athletes in an American league to get the disease.
The news led to a domino effect with league after league from Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball all the way down to high school levels suspending gameplay. And it was a major catalyst that led Gov. Gary Herbert to announce a recommendation to limit all events of over 100 people in the state for two weeks, starting Monday.
“I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours,” Gobert posted on Instagram on Thursday afternoon. “I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis ... mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.”
He was embarrassed because of how he handled the threat.
On Monday morning, Gobert made light of the Jazz’s newly installed media protocol that kept players and reporters at least 6 feet apart. After he finished answering questions, Gobert made a point to touch every recorder and microphone that had been placed on the table.
View this post on Instagram
I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment. The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus . I am under great care and will fully recover. Thank you again for all your support. I encourage everyone to take all of the steps to stay safe and healthy. Love.
The Utah Department of Health said the incident only created a “low risk” of exposure for the assembled media, but it did show Gobert’s lackadaisical approach to the virus — an attitude he is now sorry for. And not just because it may have led him to get the disease, but also because of who he may have spread it to.
“The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered,” Gobert said in the post. “At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as (a) way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus.”
Gobert and Mitchell are receiving care in Oklahoma as the rest of the Jazz returned to Utah. No other members of the Jazz traveling party tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“Our team's medical staff is recognized among the best in the world at what they do, and they remain focused on the affected players and others who may have been exposed,” Larry H. Miller Group CEO Steve Starks said at a press conference Thursday.
If Rudy Gobert signed an autograph two weeks ago, you’re fine.
–Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox
State officials said that they didn’t know at this time when or where the players were infected. In the case of Gobert, they are more concerned with the interactions beginning Monday.
“If Rudy Gobert signed an autograph two weeks ago, you’re fine,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said.
Starks has asked all employees for the Utah Jazz, Vivint Smart Home Arena and the Zions Bank Basketball Campus to refrain from entering the facilities to ensure proper cleaning and sanitation.
“I want to be clear that our employees, at this time, have not been directed to self-quarantine unless they were in direct contact with the affected players or are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19,” Starks said.