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Javonte Green becomes the 2nd Chicago Bulls player this week and 3rd in the last month to test positive for COVID-19, joining Coby White and Nikola Vučević

Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
 2021-12-05
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Bulls forward Javonte Green celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer in the first half against the Heat on Nov. 27 at the United Center. Green on Friday tested positive for COVID-19. Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Bulls are hoping to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak after Javonte Green became the second player to test positive for the virus this week.

Green returned a positive test Friday, one day after the Bulls beat the Knicks in New York and two days after Coby White was placed into isolation for a positive test. The Bulls played the Nets on Saturday night in Brooklyn.

Coach Billy Donovan said Green “drove through the night” to return to Chicago from New York on Friday. White is experiencing symptoms similar to a cold, while Donovan said it’s “too early” to report whether Green is symptomatic as well.

The Bulls reinstated mandatory daily testing for players this week after White tested positive Wednesday.

Green is the third Bulls player to test positive in the last month after Nikola Vučević missed 11 days in mid-November with a positive case. Vučević also reported cold-like symptoms but has since returned to nearly full capacity for the Bulls without lingering effects from the virus.

Donovan said the recent rash of positive tests has been frustrating for the Bulls because the team is fully vaccinated.

“I think there was some hope and some optimism that we passed this going into this season. That certainly hasn’t happened,” Donovan said. “There’s a lot of inconveniences. Things can get frustrating and annoying. You worry about, you know, are you infected? Are you healthy? We’ve got a couple (of) teammates and guys on the team that have tested positive, so sure some of that stuff goes to those guys minds.”

The NBA has experienced a spike in positive tests throughout the league this week. Four Charlotte Hornets tested positive Saturday, less than a week after playing the Bulls in Chicago on Monday. The group of positive players including LaMelo Ball, the brother of Bulls guard Lonzo Ball.

These cases come as the U.S. announced travel restrictions for eight countries as the omicron variant — a mutation that could be more resistant to vaccines — spreads worldwide. The first reported case of the omicron variant in the U.S. stemmed from the New York Anime Convention, which took place in Manhattan two weeks before the Bulls arrived for their two-game stint in New York.

Between the latest variant and the holiday season, Donovan said he expects the league to tighten its COVID-19 policies in the coming weeks. The NFL made a similar change ahead of Thanksgiving, requiring players to return to mandatory testing and mask-wearing that had been loosened earlier in the season.

“I don’t think there’s any question it’s happening,” Donovan said. “My guess would be stricter policies than they’ve already been this year. Thanksgiving and then dealing with Christmas and New Year’s, people are going to be around family. ... The way it’s moving right now is it’s getting a little bit more stricter, and certainly for us it’s a lot stricter because we’ve got two players that are positive.”

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