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Nets defend their use of coronavirus testing as NYC mayor Bill de Blasio takes exception

A shuttered Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn on

A shuttered Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn on March 17, 2020, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Credit: Danielle Silverman

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When the Nets announced on Tuesday that four of their players tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to question whether a wealthy NBA team should get tested “while there are critically ill patients waiting to get tested.” The Nets responded Wednesday with a statement defending their actions as a preventative measure to symptoms displayed by some players and staff after returning on March 12 from a trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“As we learned NBA players on other teams had tested positive for COVID-19, we noticed that several of our players and staff had symptoms,” the Nets’ statement said. “Based on this information and the judgment that all of our players are subject to high exposure due to the close physical nature of basketball, the communal nature of teams and the possibility of an accelerated spread from team to team, our medical experts advised that our players get tested.

“We sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to CDC’s public resources. Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive.

“If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and public. Our hope is that by drawing attention to the critical need for testing asymptomatic positive carriers, we can begin to contain the spread and save lives. We believe it is not only the right thing to do for our players and their families, it is the responsible thing to do from a medical and epidemiological standpoint.”

The Nets did not identify any of the four players, but superstar Kevin Durant told Shams Charania of @TheAthleticNBA he tested positive but was “feeling fine.” As of Wednesday, one of the players who tested positive displayed symptoms while the others remained asymptomatic.

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