NBA players can return from COVID-19 sooner under new league policy

·2 min read

A positive COVID-19 test won't necessarily result in a 10-day absence among NBA players and coaches anymore. The league and the NBPA agreed to new rules Monday that allow players and coaches who tested positive to return to action after just six days, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The new policy applies to vaccinated individuals. Players and coaches can be cleared only if "they’re no longer at risk to be infectious," according to the league memo obtained by Wojnarowski. The league will make that determination based on a player's cycle threshold (CT), a level measured by COVID-19 tests. The NBA reportedly believes players with a CT over 35 stop transmitting the virus after five-to-six days. The league also believes individuals who are vaccinated and boosted can clear the virus faster than those who are not vaccinated, per Wojnarowski.

Under the previous NBA policy, players and coaches could miss up to 10 days once they tested positive. The old policy also allowed individuals to return sooner if they turned in two negative tests 24 hours apart. That will also apply under the new policy.

CDC introduces new COVID-19 policy that reduces quarantine

The NBA's new policy comes the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended reducing COVID-19 quarantine from 10 days to five days among asymptomatic individuals. The CDC recommends asymptomatic individuals continue to wear masks around others five days after their quarantine ends.

The CDC made that determination based on when COVID-19 transmission typically occurs.

"The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after," per the CDC.

The CDC's new policy applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

The CDC did not reference cycle threshold in its statement, which also said nothing about the NBA's claim that vaccinated and boosted individuals clear the virus faster.

Nearly every sport — including the NBA — is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak as the Omicron variant spreads across the United States. Over 170 NBA players or coaches have entered the league's health and safety protocols over the past couple weeks. The NFL is experiencing similar numbers.

NBA sign announcing COVID-19 postponement.
NBA altered its COVID-19 policy Monday. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
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