SALT LAKE CITY — Last Sunday afternoon, Rudy Gobert gave an update on his time in isolation after being tested for COVID-19 and described some troubling symptoms.
“Just to give you guys an update, loss of smell and taste is definitely one of the symptoms,” Gobert tweeted. “Haven’t been able to smell anything for the last 4 days. Anyone experiencing the same thing?”
Five days later, there was measurably better news.
On Friday, the Utah Jazz announced that all players and staff — including Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — have been cleared of COVID-19. The team will continue to practice social distancing while limiting time outside of their home to essential activities.
It’s been over two weeks since Gobert tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus just before a game in Oklahoma City on March 11. Following his test, all 58 members of the team’s traveling party were immediately tested, with Mitchell coming back positive with the virus. As a result of the coronavirus reaching the league, the NBA ceased operations, postponing the season indefinitely.
After arriving back in Utah, all members of the traveling party — including the players — went into self-quarantine. Gobert and Mitchell were released from Oklahoma City soon after to go into self-isolation.
Following the standard 14-day quarantine period, the Utah Department of Health determined all Jazz players and staff, regardless of prior testing status, no longer pose a risk of infection to others.
The Jazz's positive tests had a reaching effect on the country. After the NBA shutdown, the coronavirus threat appeared that much more real, and leagues, businesses and governments took drastic measures to help limit the spread of the virus.
Gobert, especially, has been seen as the face of the coronavirus in the sporting world; and it was more than just because he was the first one in an American league to test positive.
Two days before he tested positive, Gobert made light of the Jazz’s newly installed media protocol to keep players and reporters at least 6 feet apart. After he finished answering questions during a media availability, Gobert made a point to touch each recorder and microphone that had been placed on the table in front of him.
UDOH said the incident had a “low risk” of exposure for the assembled media, but it did show how serious Gobert was taking the growing pandemic. His thoughts weren't that far off than many people in the country. When he reached out to touch the recorders, it drew laughs from the assembled reporters.
“The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered,” Gobert said in an Instagram post after receiving the positive test. “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.”
He might be a villain in some corners, but his positive test accelerated action throughout the country — possibly saving countless lives.
While Gobert experienced symptoms of the virus (both the common flu-like ones and some uncommon ones as well), Mitchell said he was asymptomatic, or showing no signs, throughout the entire period. That allowed him to be very public during the two weeks, appearing on Good Morning America and livestreaming his gaming play on Twitch.
“I don’t have any symptoms,” Mitchell told Good Morning America. “I could walk down the street (and) if it wasn’t public knowledge that I was sick, you wouldn’t know it. I think that’s the scariest part about this virus. You may seem fine, be fine. And you never know who you may be talking to, who they’re going home to.”
Mitchell posted a dancing celebration gif on Twitter to celebrate the news. But it’s still a very different world than it was two weeks ago.