Editor’s note: This story first appeared on AMNY.com
Pump the brakes on that bounding optimism regarding the return of the NBA.
Recent spikes of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida — where the league is set to return in late-July in the bubble of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World — has sent off red flags for league employees ranging from players to front-office executives, to commissioner Adam Silver, as first reported by ESPN.
Florida reported an all-time high of 4,049 positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday, breaking the record set just one day before. The state has reported new highs in seven of the last 10 days.
Per ESPN, the league held a virtual town meeting in which players were able to voice their concerns about returning to action in what is now one of America’s hotspots for the virus.
One of the most prevalent worries voiced was that Disney employees such as housekeepers for the hotels or arena workers are allowed to leave the resort and are not subject to coronavirus testing.
Meanwhile, the members of the 22 teams heading to Disney will be isolated on the grounds.
“We are closely monitoring the data in Florida and Orange County and will continue to work collaboratively with the NBPA, public health officials and medical experts,” NBA spokesman Mike Blass told Metro on Sunday.
The league could look toward Major League Soccer to get an idea of just what to expect down in Florida as numbers continue to climb. The top-flight American soccer league begins its summer tournament in Disney World on July 8 — roughly three weeks before the NBA starts back up.
Some teams are expected to make their way down to Florida this week, including NYCFC, whose veteran goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, voiced his concerns about the spike when speaking with Metro.
“As players, we keep a close eye on it and I think it’s definitely a massive concern,” Johnson admitted. “I think it’s definitely something that’s alarming. We’ll keep an eye on it in the next week to see how things continue to progress along, but I definitely would say it’s a cause for concern for the players, staff, and anyone who will be down there.”