The NBA world was upended when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday night, with his teammate Donovan Mitchell also testing positive for the virus Thursday.
As soon as Gobert’s test results came through, the league announced it was suspending play.
Now that two players on one team have tested positive, the fear is that more will follow, with players from teams the Jazz played recently at higher risk. The Knicks, who beat the Hawks in overtime Wednesday at State Farm Arena (with the league announcing late in the fourth quarter that the league would be suspended beginning Thursday), played the Jazz on March 4.
But as of now, no Hawks players have exhibited any symptoms of coronavirus, according to general manager Travis Schlenk. The league has not asked the Hawks to self-quarantine or to get tested for coronavirus, since they have not directly played the Jazz.
The NBA will take at least a 30-day hiatus, although it could end up being longer, depending on the state of things at that time and how well the country is able to limit the spread of the virus moving forward. Most other sports governing bodies have followed suit in one way or another, with MLB suspending spring training and the NCAA canceling its coming basketball tournaments.
“A 30-day hiatus gives you an opportunity to see where the world is going, to see where this pandemic going, to see what is the best decision for the health of our fans and our employees,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler said.
The Hawks took Thursday off and are not permitted to practice as a team yet, though that will be re-evaluated Monday. Players are permitted to use the practice facility to work out individually and receive treatment for injuries.
During this time, the Hawks have asked players to practice good personal hygiene, be vigilant when it comes to washing their hands, and practice social distancing, basically limiting their time spent in public and crowds.
Other employees in the Hawks organization are working remotely, according to CEO Steve Koonin, with the decision to work remotely re-evaluated every Wednesday.
In an evolving situation, as more information comes out, the Hawks will try to keep not just players, but everyone in the organization, on the same page.
“As a company we are trying to inform the players, and all of our employees, to the best of our ability. … This is about better communication, so people understand what we’re dealing with,” Ressler said. “This is a pandemic, and something that’s moving much more rapidly than many folks anticipated.”
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