Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert mocked the risks of spreading the novel coronavirus at a news conference, just days before his positive COVID-19 diagnosis prompted the NBA to suspend its entire season.
Gobert, 27, was speaking at a press conference on March 9 when he touched reporters’ microphones and recorders sitting on the table in front of him. According to HuffPost, the player appeared to be mocking new rules set forth by the NBA in an effort to enforce “social distancing,” a strategy intended to reduce the spread of infection.
When the NBA announced its season suspension, the league didn’t name Gobert as the player who had contracted the virus. However, multiple U.S. reports, including one by ESPN, cited sources naming Gobert as the player in question.
A source confirmed to the Associated Press, on the condition of anonymity, that Gobert had tested positive for the virus.
Ben Anderson, a KSL Sports reporter who covers Gobert’s team, tweeted out a health advisory that was being sent to journalists who attended the March 9 conference.
In the statement, the Utah Department of Health considered Gobert’s touching of the mics a “low-risk exposure.” Reporters who had close contact with Gobert were advised to self-quarantine for two weeks, according to the statement.
“I was in the room for the now-infamous press conference in which Gobert discussed the virus before making a point to touch the microphones on the table in front of him as if to laugh in the face of the risk of spreading the coronavirus,” Anderson wrote.
Seconds before the ball was tipped off to start the Oklahoma game, Oklahoma City Thunder director of medical services Donnie Strack sprinted onto the court to huddle with the game’s officials, ESPN reports.
The teams were then signalled to leave the court, and fans soon started shuffling toward the exits. Gobert was not at the arena at the time.
Players who faced the team in the 10 days prior — including the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Nicks, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons — are being told to self-quarantine, ESPN reports.
The new coronavirus was first identified in Hubei province, China, in December 2019 and spread rapidly. While the outbreak has begun to level off in China, it seems the virus has found a foothold in a number of countries around the world, and it continues to spread.
Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.
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