NBA explains its partnership with BioReference for COVID-19 testing

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Over the years, we’ve received plenty of statements from the NFL. On Friday, we received our first statement ever from the NBA.

It comes in response to the item from earlier this morning regarding the reality that COVID-19 testing for sports teams, with a turnaround of 24-48 hours, necessarily places a strain on the ability to provide test results to members of the general public. Haberstroh explained that the NBA’s new testing facility, BioReference, advises the general public to expect results within 5-7 days after collection.

“We have partnered with BioReference Laboratory to test people living on the NBA’s campus and members of the surrounding communities who are supporting our re-start in Orlando,” an NBA spokesperson said in a statement emailed to PFT. “BioReference has brought new testing capacity to its laboratory in Central Florida in order to manage NBA and local testing needs simultaneously and ensure that tests in Florida supporting hospitals and patients are not diverted from the community.

“Next week, we will also launch a mobile testing site and host a drive-through testing event, which will be open to the public and will together provide thousands of tests to the community. We are also bringing additional point of care testing to Central Florida to support not only the NBA but essential workers in the Orlando area. And we are continuing to support research into more accessible testing through research partnerships with the Yale School of Public Health, the Mayo Clinic, and other leading research institutions.”

That’s good to hear, but the reality is that any resources specifically devoted to providing NBA teams with expedited test results are resources that could be used elsewhere, in order to hasten the test results for average citizens. It’s possible, of course, that the NBA is paying BioReference the kind of premium that allows the company to provide support to the public, in order to ensure that the specific community in which the NBA games are being played gets treatment similar to what NBA players, coaches, and other essential employees are receiving when it comes to testing.

This approach works when proceeding in a bubble. For the NFL, the challenge becomes ensuring that, in the 30 different communities where teams operate, the demands of pro football COVID-19 testing don’t undermine the needs of the local public. This dynamic raises the question of whether the NFL should have simply pursued a bubble approach from the get-go.

For that reason (and others), get ready to see reports to that effect in the coming weeks. As the virus continues to spread and as the NFL tries to clear the many hurdles standing in the way of successfully completing 269 games that count, someone from behind the curtain who had been arguing for a bubble concept inevitably possibly will leak to a reporter or two an “I told you so”-type story that details how lobbying occurred for the NFL to use a bubble — and how those pleas were ignored.