The Boston Celtics placed Jayson Tatum in the NBA’s health & safety protocols on Monday. Mere hours after the news, the league revised the procedure for players to isolate after testing positive.
As explained by Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic on Twitter, players can be activated from the protocol in as soon as six days. Here’s what Tatum and other players can do to get out of the protocol:
— Two consecutive negative PCR tests, taken 24 hours apart, much like the NFL had for much of the 2021 season.
— Two consecutive tests with a “Cycle Threshold” over 35 after six days. In layman’s terms, the Cycle Threshold (CT) measures how long it takes for a PCR test machine to detect the virus. The higher the number, the lower the presence of the virus.
— Ten days of isolation, regardless of other factors.
So, ideally, Tatum can produce two negative PCR tests separated by at least 24 hours.
The six-day benchmark is ostensibly based on new CDC guidelines that came out amid the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is believed to be more contagious but less dangerous than previous variants. The CDC now recommends an isolation period of five days for people who test positive, after previously recommending 10 days.
It remains to be seen if the new recommendation effects change in the NFL or NHL, who have dealt with a sharp, meteoric rise in new COVID cases in recent weeks due to Omicron. The NFL has already relaxed testing and return procedures for vaccinated players. The NHL recently went in the opposite direction, making its own COVID protocol more stringent.
Despite having a reported 97 percent vaccination rate and at least 60 percent of players having received a booster shot, the NBA has seen over 60 players (and counting) enter the protocol and postponed several games in recent weeks, as Omicron cases have skyrocketed across all sports.
For Tatum, it appears that the best-case scenario is still that he would be eligible to return from the NBA health and safety protocol on Sun., Jan. 2, when the Celtics are scheduled to face the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. He still has to miss at least the Celtics’ next two games, which are scheduled for Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Friday against the Phoenix Suns.
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.