NYC mayor questions NBA players' ability to get coronavirus tests faster than others
After the Brooklyn Nets announced Tuesday that four of their players tested positive for the coronavirus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took aim at the NBA team's ability to get testing that has been unavailable to so many others.
"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," de Blasio wrote in a tweet. "Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."
The Nets paid out of pocket to a private company to conduct the tests, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
President Donald Trump also addressed the issue of athletes being tested when he was asked Wednesday by a reporter whether "the well-connected go to the front of the line."
"Well, you'd have to ask them that question," Trump responded.
When asked whether it should happen, Trump responded, "No, I wouldn't say so."
"But perhaps that's been the story of life," Trump said. "That does happen on occasion, and I've noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly."
Brooklyn got its COVID-19 results on Tuesday, after the team was tested upon return from San Francisco last week, sources said. The team was in the Bay Area for a now-postponed game against the Golden State Warriors on March 12.
The Nets didn't identify the individuals who tested positive, but one of them is All-Star Kevin Durant, ESPN confirmed.
On Tuesday evening, in response to the testing criticism, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that there has been worry over player contact with others.
"Public health authorities and team doctors have been concerned that, given NBA players' direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, in addition to their frequent travel, they could accelerate the spread of the virus," Bass said. "Following two players testing positive last week, others were tested and five additional players tested positive.
"Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their test results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly."
Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers told reporters on a call Tuesday that "we're treating ourselves like people, which is what we are." On Monday, about 7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area were ordered to shelter at their homes and only leave for "essential" reasons.
"We're not better than anybody, we're not worse," Myers said. "We're just a basketball team, like any company."
Added Warriors coach Steve Kerr: "It's very difficult to find a test in California and many places. So if any of our players do come down sick or any of our employees, we'll [do] our best to get a test, but there's definitely frustration that we don't all have access to them, but there's nothing we can do about it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.