Nets defend players’ tests, cite use of private lab


NEW YORK — Several Brooklyn Nets players and staff were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, prompting the team’s traveling party to get tested for the virus, the team said in a statement Wednesday.

The statement from the Nets came on the heels of public outcry about NBA players having disproportionate access to scarce tests, when the general public — even those who are critically ill — are struggling to get tested.

The Nets announced Tuesday that four of their players had tested positive for the coronavirus, including three who exhibited no symptoms.

After the Nets’ announcement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took aim at the NBA team’s ability to get testing that has been unavailable to so many others.

“We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” de Blasio tweeted Tuesday. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”

Typically, symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing, a fever, and body aches. In some patients — especially those who are younger — there are no symptoms at all.

The Nets said in their statement that they “sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC’s public resources.”

“Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive,” the statement continued. “If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and the public. Our hope is that by drawing attention to the critical need for testing asymptomatic positive carriers, we can begin to contain the spread and save lives.”

President Donald Trump was asked Wednesday about asymptomatic professional athletes getting tests while others are waiting in line, and whether it was true that the well-connected go to the front of the line.

“Well, you’d have to ask them that question,” Trump responded. ” No, I wouldn’t say so but perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion. I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Brooklyn got its COVID-19 results on Tuesday after the team returned from San Francisco last week. The team was in the Bay Area for a now-postponed game against the Golden State Warriors on March 12.

One of the Nets who tested positive is All-Star Kevin Durant, ESPN confirmed.

On Tuesday evening, in response to the testing criticism, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that there has been worry over player contact with others.

“Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players’ direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus,” Bass said. “Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive.

“Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.”

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