Advertisement

The Sports Report: Why do sports leagues get coronavirus test results faster than the public?

LAFC forward Diego Rossi is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Galaxy on Saturday.
LAFC forward Diego Rossi is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Galaxy on Saturday.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell and baseball returns with real games this week!

Kevin Baxter takes a look at why sports leagues get coronavirus test results back quicker than regular folk: On July 2, Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician in central Florida, saw a patient who feared he might have contracted COVID-19. So he had the patient tested and submitted the test to a lab.

Sixteen days later, he’s still waiting for the results.

Advertisement

That same day, less than half an hour away in Orlando, about 180 players and staff members from four Major League Soccer teams had a similar test performed upon checking into their hotel. Their results came back within hours.

“I have a major problem with that,” Burrowes said.

“We’re in a crisis situation where we’re setting records almost daily in terms of how many people are turning positive for COVID-19. And I can’t get the results back on a patient of mine. Meanwhile, these pro sports teams are being tested daily to semi-daily and getting the results back immediately. In some cases, they’re using the same lab.”

The NBA and MLS have contracted with BioReference Laboratories, a private lab based in Elmwood Park, N.J., to rush their results within hours. BioReference was also being used by the Florida Department of Health to assist in public testing at the massive Orange County Convention Center, but when the turnaround time for results there grew to six days, the state began sending those specimens to rival lab Genetworx.

Advertisement

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

“BioReference was so backed up partly because they were doing MLS testing,” said Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Oxford College of Emory University. “You can see how complicated all of this is.”

The MLS has about 1,300 players and staff quarantined in a Disney resort, where they are being tested every other day. The NBA has been doing several hundred daily tests on players and staff for 22 of its teams, quarantined in another Orlando resort. The number of tests isn’t as big a problem as how swiftly the tests are processed, though, with the leagues pushing ahead of people who, in some cases, have been waiting weeks to find out if they have COVID-19.

“The optics are horrible,” Binney said. “And it sends a really questionable message about what we’re prioritizing in this country.”

Advertisement

NFL

NFL players are publicly pleading with the league to address several health and safety concerns on the eve of training camp.

The league informed teams on Saturday that training camps would open on time even though discussions with the players’ union regarding testing for the coronavirus and other health and safety protocols were ongoing.

Rookies for Houston and Kansas City are set to report Monday, and rookies for other teams are due Tuesday. Players for all teams are scheduled to report by July 28.

Many prominent players expressed their thoughts in a social media blitz Sunday.

Advertisement

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says he’s concerned because his wife, Ciara, is pregnant.

He wrote: “My wife is pregnant. @NFL Training camp is about to start.. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay.”

ANGELS

Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: Julio Teheran said he usually gets cold-like symptoms when it rains, so the Angels pitcher didn’t worry when he began to feel a little sick the day after a storm passed over his Atlanta-area home in late June.

But when the veteran right-hander came down with a fever, chills, body aches, headaches and lost his sense of taste, he grew concerned, not so much for himself but for his parents, who are considered high risk for severe complications from COVID-19, and his wife and 4-year-old son.

Advertisement

“I was more worried about getting other people in my family sick,” Teheran said on a videoconference call Sunday. “I knew the coronavirus can hit you really hard. With all my hard work and training, I knew it wouldn’t hit me hard, but I wanted to be sure that it didn’t affect the rest of my family.”

Teheran, who signed a one-year, $9-million deal last winter, quarantined himself at home and sent his parents to live in a hotel. He tested positive for the coronavirus, the third such confirmed Angels player, joining Patrick Sandoval and Matt Thaiss.

MLS

Cristian Espinoza scored his first goal of the season early in the second half, Chris Wondolowski provided the clincher moments after coming on as a substitute, and the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Chicago Fire 2-0 on Sunday night to clinch a spot in the MLS is Back tournament round of 16.

San Jose (2-1-2) clinched the top spot out of Group B after going unbeaten in its three matches in the group stage. San Jose opened with a 0-0 draw against Seattle, before a dramatic 4-3 comeback victory over Vancouver when Shea Salinas scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time for the win.

Advertisement

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

April Ross and Alix Klineman won the first AVP beach volleyball tournament since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, winning the AVP Champions Cup in Long Beach.

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena won the men’s final.

GOLF

Jack Nicklaus said Sunday that he and his wife, both 80, tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this year.

Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, turned 80 a month apart at the start of the year.

Advertisement

He said his wife had no symptoms COVID-19 symptoms, while Nicklaus had a sore throat and a cough. Nicklaus said they were home in North Palm Beach, Fla., from March 13 “until we were done with it” on about April 20.

“It didn’t last very long, and we were very, very fortunate, very lucky,” Nicklaus said. “Barbara and I are both of the age, both of us 80 years old, that is an at-risk age. Our hearts go out to the people who did lose their lives and their families. We were just a couple of the lucky ones.”

———
Jon Rahm won the Memorial to join Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world. Rahm built an eight-shot lead at the turn, only to see it reduced to three shots with three holes to play. In trouble behind the green on the par-three 16th, with Ryan Palmer facing a 12-foot birdie putt from the fringe, Rahm hit a flop shot from deep grass that came out perfectly. It landed on the fringe, ran toward the hole and dropped for birdie.

NASCAR

Austin Dillon stayed in front after a restart with two laps to go and beat rookie Tyler Reddick to the checkered flag at Texas, giving Richard Childress Racing a 1-2 NASCAR Cup finish . Dillon raced to his third career win and first since Daytona at the start of the 2018 season. He stayed in front on three late restarts, the first after an incident with 29 laps left that shuffled the fast car of Ryan Blaney to a lap back.

Advertisement

THIS DAY IN SPORTS

Compiled by John Scheibe:

Dodgers pitcher Bill Singer, who 10 weeks earlier was hospitalized with hepatitis, pitches a no-hitter on this date in 1970 to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 before a daytime crowd of 12,454 at Dodger Stadium.

As the Dodgers mob the tall right-hander after he gets Byron Browne to foul a popup to catcher Jeff Torborg, Dr. Robert Woods, who treated Singer back to good health, can only shake his head and say, “It’s a miracle.”

It is the first no-hitter for the Dodgers since Sandy Koufax’s perfect game against the Chicago Cubs in 1965, which also was caught by Torborg. Singer strikes out 10 and walks none to improve his record to 7-3.

Advertisement

Singer, who had been activated from the disabled list June 14, said afterward: “I am so happy I could cry. The tears are there.”

Here is a look at other memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:

1958 — The PGA Championship makes the transition from match-play format to stroke play and Dow Finsterwald beats Billy Casper by two shots at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa., 11 miles outside Philadelphia. Finsterwald, a native of Athens, Ohio, who was runner-up in the 1957 PGA Championship to Lionel Hebert 2 and 1, shoots a 67 in the final round on the par-70 course, including a 31 on the front nine, for his only major title.

DODGERSPandemic will create a whole new way to broadcast Dodgers games
1958 — The Detroit Tigers’ Jim Bunning, a lanky 26-year-old right-hander from Southgate, Ky., throws the first of his two no-hitters when he beats the Boston Red Sox 3-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park. Bunning strikes out 12, walks two and hits Jackie Jensen twice with pitches. In 1964, Bunning would pitch his second no-hitter, a perfect game against the New York Mets that makes him one of just five pitchers to throw no-hitters in the American and National leagues.

Advertisement

1963 — Mary Mills wins the first of her three major championships when she beats Sandra Haynie and Louise Suggs by three strokes in the U.S. Women’s Open at the Kenwood Country Club outside Cincinnati. Mills, 23, fires an even-par 73 in the final round for a 72-hole total of 289. Retired tennis pro Althea Gibson is the first Black to play in a U.S. Women’s Open when she shoots a 14-over-par 160 in the first two rounds and misses the cut by a stroke.

1974 — The filly Chris Evert, named after the tennis star who is cheering from the rail, wins match point when the three-year old beats Miss Musket by 50 lengths in a $350,000, winner-take-all race at Hollywood Park. The final margin is the result of jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.’s decision not to push Miss Musket after she is decisively beaten with a half-mile to go in the 1¼-mile event. The money is put up in part by the horses’ owners — Aaron Jones challenges Carl Rosen, owner of Chris Evert, at $100,000 each — and Hollywood Park covers the balance of $150,000.

1976 — Hank Aaron hits the 755th and final home run of his Half of Fame career to help the Brewers to a 6-2 win over the Angels before a pint-sized crowd of 10,134 at County Stadium in Milwaukee. Aaron’s clout to left field comes in the seventh inning with two out off Dick Drago.

1997 — Justin Leonard, 25, from Texas, closes with a 65 to win the British Open at 12-under 272 at Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland. Leonard, whose final round is one of the best ever in a major championship, takes the lead from Jesper Parnevik with a birdie on No. 17. Leonard starts the day trailing by five shots but makes six birdies on the front nine and goes on to win by three shots over Darren Clarke and Parnevik, who led after 54 holes.

Advertisement

2009 — Lauren Lappin, a Stanford graduate and 2008 Olympian, hits her first home run of the season to start a three-run rally in the third inning, and the United States goes on to beat Australia 3-1 in the World Cup of Softball championship game in Oklahoma City. Cat Osterman relieves Team USA starter Monica Abbott, who allows just one run in 5 2/3 innings. Australia has the go-head run at the plate, but Osterman gets Kylie Cronk to line out to end the game.

2010 — One day after Ilya Kovalchuk agrees to a shocking 17-year, $102-million contract with the New Jersey Devils, the NHL rejects the deal, ruling the heavily front-loaded structure is an attempt to circumvent the league’s salary cap and minimize its average annual value. Kovalchuk, a 27-year-old left wing who is also pursued by the Kings, is to be paid $95 million through the first 10 seasons.

2015 — Zach Johnson rolls in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd green at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, and then makes two birdies in a four-hole playoff with Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman to win the British Open. Jordan Spieth, looking to win his third straight major tournament, falls one shot short of joining the trio when he misses an eight-foot putt on the 72nd hole.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press

Advertisement

And finally

Hank Aaron hits his 755th homer. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


Advertisement