The NBA intends to bolster its current safeguards against COVID-19 by administering a third test to each player and referee ahead of games, sources told ESPN's Tim Bontemps.
The league sent a memo Wednesday night instructing teams to seek out local testing providers in their home markets, reports Bontemps. It reportedly hopes to implement the new testing measures next week.
Players and referees are already required to produce two negative tests - an antigen test (also known as a rapid test) and a PCR test - to take the court. Antigen tests are currently administered on game days, while PCR tests are administered the day before a match.
Antigen tests can return results within 15-30 minutes. PCR tests take considerably longer to process but are "typically highly accurate," according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The new third test would reportedly be a PCR test administered on the morning of game day, with players and referees theoretically receiving results an hour before tip-off.
The NBA has been forced to postpone nine games so far this season due to the combination of COVID-19 protocols and typical in-season injuries. Teams must have at least eight healthy, active players in uniform to take the floor for a game.
As the rate of new infections among players continues to rise, there have also been instances of players receiving conflicting test results mid-game after initially producing negative results during rapid tests.
Seth Curry had to leave the Philadelphia 76ers' sideline on Jan. 7 after reportedly receiving notice of a positive test midway through the first half of his team's contest against the Brooklyn Nets. The episode prompted contact tracing that eventually jeopardized the availability of nearly half of the 76ers' lineup.