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Covid is engulfing the NBA for a third straight season

Recent outbreaks across the NBA are a reminder we must stay vigilant in the fight against Covid.

Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The NBA has been at the forefront of how professional sports handle a global pandemic since life as we know it changed in March of 2020. Rudy Gobert’s positive test minutes before a Thunder vs. Jazz game was supposed to tip-off was the first major alarm that the virus had arrived in the United States. The NBA was the first league to break for the pandemic, and the first league to come back during it when they formed a bubble in Orlando for the 2020 playoffs.

While the league has been hailed for how it’s handled Covid since the beginning, the unfortunate reality is that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic that’s quickly approaching its third year. Midway through the 2021-2022 season, the NBA has another outbreak on its hands.

The Chicago Bulls now have five players in health and safety protocol after positive tests for DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., Javonte Green, and Matt Thomas. This comes on the heels of star center Nikola Vucevic missing 10 days in protocol. The Charlotte Hornets had positive tests for LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, and Terry Rozier. The Denver Nuggets have three players out because of the virus. The Grizzlies are without Ja Morant after a positive test despite the star guard already having his booster shot. Memphis teammate Dillon Brooks is out too. Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle is now in protocol. Raptors president Masai Ujiri tested positive as well.

The NBA says it has a 97 percent vaccination rate. It reportedly has 34 “breakthrough” cases of positive tests for fully vaccinated players. The safe and effective vaccines have helped keep symptoms mild and get players like Vucevic and Joel Embiid back on the court after positive tests. But the recent outbreak in the NBA is another reminder that everyone must stay vigilant in the fight against Covid.

So far, the league hasn’t had to postpone any games, but you wonder if it’s coming. Last season, 31 games were postponed. The Bulls in particular are running out of players. As new variants emerge, it’s clear we’re not out of the woods — and maybe that close to it — as the calendar flips to 2022.

Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart when possible. Get the vaccine and the booster shot. None of this will make Covid disappear until everyone is on the same page in this fight.