When the league found that a Utah Jazz player was infected with the coronavirus on March 10, the remaining regular season games were cancelled the next day. Subsequent team-wide testing conducted by the Oklahoma Health Department diagnosed another Jazz player with the virus. The league ordered team-wide testing for all 30 NBA and 12 WNBA teams. On Friday, the league retracted that order.
According to CNN, a memo was sent to all 30 NBA teams asking them to cancel plans to test their entire organisation for the coronavirus, citing challenges in the health sector. The memo reportedly states that team-wide testing would be "inappropriate at this time."
The logic behind the cancellation is to prevent criticism about preferential treatment to NBA stars when thousands of communities are still having problems getting testing kits. There is currently a backlog of critically-ill patients who are suspected of having the virus but remain untested.
When Jazz center Rudy Gobert was found positive for COVID-19, the Oklahoma Health Department used 58 testing kits to complete the screening for the entire team. The number includes other players, coaches, trainers, the executive team, and other staffers. While the prudent measure led the Oklahoma Health Department and Utah Jazz to the diagnosis of another player, Donovan Mitchell, it used up a significant percentage of testing kits allocated for the State of Oklahoma, which is already in short supply.
The NBA has since required all teams to conduct team-wide testing and found over a dozen other players, including superstar Kevin Durant, infected with the virus. Other players requested to remain anonymous. Another round of extensive testing was going to be a requirement for the league to resume games.
However, last Friday, the league retracted the order on team-wide testing to prevent teams from actively acquiring testing kits for their organisation. The number of infected people in the USA has surpassed the million mark, and two testing kits are required to retest a patient and declare them recovered.
While Gobert and Mitchell have since recovered from the virus, the league no longer wishes to further burden the US health sector for its needs, at least for now.