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How Have NBA Players Been Able to Access Coronavirus Tests?

The NBA has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with seven players receiving positive tests over the last week. 

Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first player to receive a positive test, on March 11, followed by teammate Donovan Mitchell. Pistons forward Christian Wood tested positive on March 14, three days before four Nets players–including Kevin Durant–registered positive tests. It's likely more NBA players will follow suit in the coming weeks.

The NBA's rapid response to the coronavirus hasn't exactly mirrored the public's at large. Cities and other localities around the United States are struggling to procure coronavirus test kits. According to The New York Times, recent data showed that 125 people per million have been tested in the United States, compared with more than 2,000 per million in Italy and 5,000 per million in South Korea. 

So why has the NBA outpaced the rest of the country? Private testing has been a key factor.

The Nets said in a statement to The New York Times' Sopan Deb that they "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."

The Thunder had a similar experience when they were tested after Gobert, buying private tests as to not deplete the public supply in Oklahoma City. The Thunder announced Wednesday that all the tests administered last week were negative.

The NBA has good reason to quickly procure private tests. Former CDC epidemic intelligence officer Rishi Desai said NBA players can be deemed "super spreaders," as they come in contact with a significant amount of people each day. 

“The average person is not exposing as many other people as a super spreader,” Desai told USA Today. “Whenever there’s an outbreak and you know you have these potential super spreaders who have the potential to be around a lot of people, you want to really get on top of that situation.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass echoed Desai's sentiment on Tuesday. 

"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 told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

The Jazz, meanwhile, used the state of Oklahoma's testing resources—more than half of its daily capacity, at least as it stood last week. Oklahoma health officials administered those tests. 

The tally of positive tests in the NBA will rise in the coming weeks. The Lakers underwent tests for COVID-19 on Wednesday, and their results will be revealed on Friday. 

There are more than 200,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus globally across at least 144 countries.