As the NBA gets set to begin their restarted season, the league announced Wednesday that it had a second straight week without any positive COVID-19 tests in the Disney bubble. While that’s a great step towards the league successfully starting and, hopefully, completing a three-month long restarted season and playoffs, the United States is still dealing with tens of thousands of new cases per day, and access to testing (particularly rapid testing) remains a serious public health issue.
There has been criticism of leagues using up laboratory resources for getting rapid test results, and those critiques are more than valid. The inability of people to get test results back in a reasonable time frame is a significant issue, as it is increasingly difficult to isolate for days and even weeks while awaiting results. The NBA recognizes this and announced on Wednesday an expansion of its community testing program, noting that it is working on creating no-cost testing programs in Orlando and various team markets around the country to offer testing at no-cost to residents, particularly in areas where testing is scarce currently.
Public health data has made clear that the impacts of the coronavirus are most concentrated in historically marginalized communities of color where access to testing is scarce. To meet this need, the NBA collaborated with UnidosUS and the National Urban League as well as several private laboratories to identify communities most in need and provide access to no-cost testing programs in addition to communicating public health information to community members.
In partnership with BioReference Laboratories, the league’s testing provider on the NBA campus in Orlando, Fla., the NBA is providing free, daily COVID-19 PCR tests at a mobile collection site at the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. Those interested can register for an appointment by completing a brief survey before being redirected to a scheduling tool to select a convenient date and time for the COVID-19 test. Please visit Appointments.BioReference.com/NBAOrlando to complete the survey and for additional details regarding appointments, transportation and scheduling.
It’s important that the league use its resources that have clearly given them access to quick testing and offering that to the public, and their plan is to provide thousands of tests in various communities — and hopefully those tests will be able to be returned with swift results. The league is also continuing to partner with the Yale School of Public Health to fund research and testing for a non-invasive saliva test that is seeking FDA approval in an effort to provide a far more accessible test, both in terms of cost and quicker turnaround of results.