Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s president of social responsibility and player programs, told USA Today sports the league is not taking away from existing testing and is focused on contributions to make sure testing is widely available.
Free community testing programs in NBA markets
The league launched a community testing program for free in Orlando, where the NBA is playing out its regular season and playoffs at ESPN’s Wide World of sports, and the other 29 team markets. The league said it is providing thousands of COVID-19 PCR tests, a molecular test that detects the virus’s specific genetic material.
“There are ways to ensure that you’re not taking away from the testing that needs to be available,” Behrens said, via USA Today sports. “If we can contribute in making sure additional testing is available at new capacities to essential Florida with these mobile testing sites, that is an important part of our restart.
“We’re not just taking care of our own NBA community. But we’re making sure we contribute toward taking care of the greater community because the need is so great.”
The NBA has recently focused on Orlando and areas near the city since Florida is a hotspot. The number of new cases in the state has started to drop in recent days, per the New York Times. There has been an average of 6,525 new cases per day, a decrease of 38 percent from the state’s average two weeks ago. Florida experienced a peak of 15,300 new cases in one day on July 12.
NBA criticized early on for using up public tests
The NBA faced criticism in March when teams were tested for the virus in the days after the league postponed its season. The Utah Jazzorganization had 58 people tested after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. The tests came from the state’s then-small supply and was a “public health decision.”
Other teams were also tested at the time, with some receiving public tests and others going to the private market.