The NBA and the Jazz in their statements did not identify Gobert as the player who had tested positive, but they did mention a Utah player has the virus. The statement from the team reads in part, “This morning a player on the Utah Jazz tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of today, however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19. A preliminary positive result came back right before tip-off of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City game.”
Gobert was listed as questionable with an illness heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder and was later listed as out.
A few days before testing positive for the illness, Gobert during a pregame interview session jokingly touched reporters’ microphones in front of him. Reporter Andy Larsen, who covers the Jazz for the Salt Lake Tribune, said of the incident: “I actually took it as a measure of support for the media. We were being told to keep 6-8 feet away from them on the assumption that we might infect a player. I thought it was Rudy thumbing his nose at the separation between us.
“It was obviously reckless, but heck, nearly everyone I know has made a coronavirus distance joke at some point this week.”
rudy gobert is questionable with an illness two days after making it “a point to touch every mic and recorder in front of him” pic.twitter.com/rqhMUc4ens
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) March 11, 2020
Video of Gobert touching the microphones surfaced later Wednesday evening.
There was obvious concern that if Gobert had been infected with the virus at the time that he could pass it on to reporters. Ben Anderson, who covers the Jazz for KSL Sports, contacted the Utah Department of Health to determine whether he and other reporters were at risk.
The department’s response:
“We have had many questions from members of the media concerning the risk of COVID-19 due to contact with Mr. Rudy Gobert, and specifically, during the press conference on Monday, March 9, 2020. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case, for minutes or longer. In this particular instance, public health considers close contact to be an individual or 1:1 interview with Mr. Gobert or shaking hands giving high fives with Mr. Gobert. We consider the incident where Mr. Gobert briefly touched the microphones after the press conference on Monday to be a low risk exposure.”
The department added that if reporters didn’t have close contact with Gobert, as defined above, they “do not need to stay home or be under active monitoring by public health.” But they do suggest “to limit the spread of any illness” to stay home if they start feeling any symptoms. If any reporter did have close contact, though, he or she needs to remain quarantined at home for the next 14 days.
The Jazz said the player who has the illness (Gobert) is “currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City.” Jazz teammate Emmanuel Mudiay was also listed on the injury report with an illness, but no reports have indicated he also has coronavirus.
Evan Fournier, another NBA player, said he spoke with Gobert and he is doing well. The Athletic reported via sources “Gobert is feeling good, strong and stable” and “had enough energy” to play Wednesday night, which is why he was initially listed as questionable.
As a result of Gobert’s positive test, Utah’s game against Oklahoma City was postponed, and the entire NBA season was suspended.