July 6, 2020
Seven of 137 WNBA players tested positive for COVID-19
The announcement comes on the same day that teams are expected to leave for Florida.
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Seven out of 137 players have tested positive for COVID-19, the WNBA announced Monday. All teams except the Indiana Fever will arrive today at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where the league’s shortened, 22-game season is scheduled to tip off later this month.
“Any player who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until she satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician,” the statement read.
The league did not specify which players or teams had positive tests, although the Indianapolis Star reported that two Fever players were among the positive tests.
According to ESPN, all players were required to pass three COVID-19 tests before traveling to Bradenton. The latest tests were administered between June 28 and July 5, and as our Howard Megdal reported, no staff or coaches have tested positive. Upon arrival, all players, coaches and staff will be tested again and then isolate in their lodging area for four days before attempting to practice or meet. While it has been reported that NBA players — who are scheduled to play at ESPN’s World Wide of Sports Complex in Orlando — will have the option of wearing a fitness monitoring ring, it is unclear whether WNBA players will have that available to them.
Though all players are expected to report to IMG Academy today, the league has still not informed all players about the status of their medical exemption applications. Players previously filled out medical questionnaires to determine if they are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, and team physicians were supposed to review them. If a player must sit out because of a medically confirmed preexisting health condition, the league will pay their full salary, once the league has approved the high-risk status.
A schedule for the season with game and broadcast information has yet to be announced, with a league source telling The Next the league is currently waiting on ESPN to provide national TV windows.
Since the season was announced on June 15, a number of players have announced that they not participate in the 2020 WNBA season, due to the health risks that COVID-19 poses or in support of the fight for racial justice. Las Vegas Aces center Liz Cambage, Atlanta guard Renee Montgomery, Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones, LA’s Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver and more are among the high-profile names that have opted out thus far. Additionally, Seattle Storm head coach Dan Hughes and Sparks assistant Fred Williams will not be making the trip to Florida as they are both at high risk to contract COVID-19 due to their age.