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SALT LAKE CITY — Just a few short days before the start of the season, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles received some dreaded news: he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The good news: it ended up being a false positive.
But it took a couple of days to find that out, leading to some chaotic moments for Ingles that featured fear, confusion and, finally, sweet relief.
The positive test was a shock to Ingles and the team. Not so much that the virus found its way into the Jazz's circle, but who it first hit. If there was someone who had made sure his Utah teammates had followed the COVID-19 guidelines to the letter, it was Ingles. Sure, he wanted the team to be safe, but mostly he didn't want his family exposed.
And his children were his first thought when he was notified of the positive test last weekend.
Ingles immediately called his wife, Renae, and soon she and the couple's kids were getting tested. Those tests all came back negative. If they had tested negative and everyone at the facility had tested negative, where did Ingles get it? He hadn't been in contact with anybody else.
"I literally do not do anything so they (his teammates) are all saying, 'If you're going to get it doing nothing, then we're all screwed," Ingles said.
So Ingles got tested again. It came back negative. That was a good sign, but it didn't clear the matter up. Neither he nor the Jazz knew which test was accurate.
"I was obviously incredibly confused and ended up going to a hotel for the night," Ingles said.
He isolated himself from the team and his family as things got worked out. More tests followed — including one that was lost on its way to the out-of-state lab (it was eventually found — "miraculously," Ingles said). Another night in a hotel was followed by more rapid tests and after multiple negative results, Ingles was cleared to return home and join his teammates again.
"Glad everything was OK and that really the family was OK, too," Ingles said.
In the end, it was a good conclusion, but it opened up what could be another roadblock in what will surely be an interesting season. If Ingles had got the false-positive result back on Tuesday, for example, he likely would have been sitting out Utah's season-opener at Portland on Wednesday.
"This is going to be the way it is for the year, it's going to be frustrating," Ingles said. "The frustrating part if you're healthy and injury-free and you miss it by that. But I think we all are well aware of the situation this year. It's probably going to happen more than once to not just our team but every team."
This time, though, the Jazz got lucky. Not only was Ingles not positive, but he also didn't have to miss any more than a practice. But who knows what will happen next time a result comes back positive? That's why Utah is taking the scare as a way to refocus on keeping COVID-19 away from the team.
"It just stresses the importance of being diligent in what we do, being respectful, responsible, wearing a mask around each other just because you never know," said Mike Conley, who missed the first week of training camp due to being in close contact with someone who had tested positive.
"You'd expect it to come from somebody who's out and about doing things or doing the wrong thing or they're out partying, or whatever but it can easily just be given to one of your kids or somebody that works around your house or your wife or anybody," Conley continued. "It can touch you in so many different ways. … We just have to be ready for everything that's thrown our way."