Why Do NBA Players Have Access To COVID-19 Testing When I Don’t?

By: Zachary Diamond
Posted: March 19, 2020

The Brooklyn Nets have announced that four players on their roster have tested positive for COVID-19, including Kevin Durant, bringing the number of NBA players infected by the virus to a total of seven.

In the last week, we’ve also learned that Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Christian Wood have tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the NBA, eight full NBA teams have been tested.

The Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers have all been able to test their entire rosters for the virus.

As they should. In the midst of a global pandemic, every single person should be able to be tested. Everyone deserves to know if they are infected or not with a potentially lethal disease.

Yet, according to The Guardian, from March 8th to the morning of March 11th, only 77 people in the United States were tested for coronavirus. The number has increased in recent days, as 8,200 people were able to get tested on March 16th. Divided by 50 states, that is only 164 people per state. To put the US daily testing number in comparison, South Korea tests 20,000 people a day.

With such a minimal amount of testing being done in the United States, how have NBA teams been able to get access to testing kits so easily?

The Utah Jazz used 58 tests in the state of Oklahoma, which at the time had the capacity to test 100 people a day. That means that the Jazz used up about 60% of Oklahoma’s testing abilities themselves.

All of the other NBA teams who have been tested paid private facilities to administer the test for them. There is no question that every team has the financial resources to get their rosters tested if they wanted to. But, should they? With testing incredibly hard to come by in the United States, should testing kits be prioritized and used on NBA players?

According to the Associated Press, government officials said, “priority for testing would go to medical professionals and senior citizens with viral symptoms.”

NBA players are obviously neither medical professionals nor senior citizens. In reality, NBA players are some of the most physically healthy people on the planet. Is it necessary for all of these healthy young men to get access to testing over those who are sick and in need?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, responding to the four Nets players testing positive, tweeted: “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. Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”

In a perfect world, everyone deserves to be tested. But, with severe shortages impacting the entire United States, Mayor de Blasio has a point. Tests should be prioritized for the sick, as those are the people who need it most. If there aren’t enough tests to give to critically ill patients, then they shouldn’t be going to young healthy NBA players who do not urgently need them.

Those who are wealthy and famous should not have access to testing over those who are sick and desperately need it. It is not fair that critically ill patients are struggling to get access to testing when those with the means to acquire them can privately purchase testing kits.

Who wants to live in a world where those with money can buy testing kits and those without money probably won’t get tested? It is deeply upsetting to know that money is a more relevant factor in acquiring a coronavirus test than someone’s actual health.

The idea that there are even private facilities with testing kits not open to the public is a sham itself. During a shortage, every testing kit in the United States should be available to the public and not kept in the hands of private facilities to be sold.

Considering there are now seven NBA players who have tested positive, with more sure to come, it’s important that the NBA continues to test the teams that haven’t been tested yet. However, critically ill patients should be prioritized over the NBA, and if there aren’t enough testing kits to serve the sick than they definitely aren’t enough testing kits for the NBA.

Regular normal people should be deeply disturbed that they don’t have access to testing in the midst of a pandemic. It is a massive failure of the United States government that testing is as scarce as it is.


8,200 people tested a day is way too low of a number in a country with 372 million people. We need to be testing at least 100,000 people a day if not more. We need to be building more infrastructure for testing sites and hospitals/beds.

During a national emergency, everyone should have access to an abundance of free testing. Everyone deserves to know if they are infected or not with a deadly disease. Those who are sick should be prioritized over everyone else, including those who are professional basketball players.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.

These thoughts and opinions were brought to you by Zachary Diamond. Click on his author page or Twitter for more.

Click here for more NBA content from Sports Are From Venus.

Image Source: AP Images

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