Orlando airport coronavirus spike may alter NBA travel plans

ESPN’s Wide World of Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

More and more reasons for unease are revealing themselves regarding the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. 

On Wednesday, reports emerged that 260 workers at Orlando International Airport tested positive for coronavirus out of nearly 500 employees tested. 

It continues a concerning upward trend in COVID-19 cases around the state that will also be hosting the return of Major League Soccer beginning on July 8. On Tuesday, the state reported 2,783 new cases of the virus. 

In Orange County, which is where Orlando is located, coronavirus cases are up by 202% from last week according to Dr. Raul Pino of the Department of Health.

The news has forced NBA teams to take notice and they already seem to be making alternate plans when it comes to traveling to the city. 

Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports reported on Wednesday morning that teams “may not” fly into Orlando International Airport but rather arrive at smaller airports in the area and bus to Disney World. 

In total, 22 NBA teams with 35-man traveling parties will be arriving in Orlando in late June to restart the season, which will consist of eight regular-season games before the start of the postseason on Aug. 17. 

On Tuesday, the teams were given their hotel assignments, which was based on current positions in the standings. 

Once there, players will be afforded amenities ranging from a players-only lounge that includes video games and televisions, pools, barbers, 24-hour VIP concierge, daily entertainment, and the option to attend other games. 

Inside the playing arena, each team will have two rows on the bench. The first will consist of players and coaches, who won’t require a mask, and the second will be other players and coaches who must wear masks at all times unless they’re an active player, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania

All players, staff, and personnel must sign an agreement that they will adhere to all rules set before them to ensure their health and safety.