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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticizes "wealthy" NBA teams for coronavirus tests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed NBA teams this week for having access to coronavirus tests after four Brooklyn Nets players tested positive for COVID-19. Teams including the Nets, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors say they have gotten tested for the deadly virus while a vast majority of Americans still haven't.

"We wish them a speedy recovery," de Blasio tweeted shortly after the Nets' announcement. "But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested. Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

The NBA indefinitely suspended its season on March 11 after Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. His Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell and reportedly Pistons big man Christian Wood also tested positive. 

Soon after, the Nets purchased the tests from a privately owned company because the team "did not want to impact access to CDC's public resources," Mandy Gutmann, the team's vice president of communications, said in a statement to CBS News. 

"Using the test results, we were able to take immediate precautions and strictly isolate the players who tested positive," she added. "If we had waited for players to exhibit symptoms, they might have continued to pose a risk to their family, friends and the public." 

Kevin Durant, one of the league's biggest stars, said he was one of the Nets players who tested positive for the virus. "Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine," Durant told The Athletic. "We're going to get through this."

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has said the nation's system of public and private laboratories are increasing their capacity to test patients amid the outbreak. As of writing, there were more than 9,400 confirmed cases in the U.S. and at least 154 deaths.

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass has also addressed players' access to COVID-19 testing and suggested they might be a priority because of their contact with others and interactions with large populations.

"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 said in a statement to ESPN on Tuesday. 

"Hopefully, by these players choosing to make their rest results public, they have drawn attention to the critical need for young people to follow CDC recommendations in order to protect others, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly."

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