Rhode Island child who got an autograph from Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tests positive for COVID-19, though health officials deny link

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) slaps hands with the fans as he leaves the court after the Jazz fell to the Warriors in game 4 of the NBA playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City Monday May 8, 2017.

We are in uncharted territory, obviously.

Wednesday’s announcement that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the COVID-19 disease brought with it, just minutes later, the announcement that the NBA would go on hiatus.

Since then, it’s been a seemingly nonstop parade of minute-to-minute developments, some major (such as Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell’s subsequent positive test), some minor — all an attempt navigate an unprecedented situation.

For instance, Friday’s announcement from Westerly, R.I. police chief Shawn Lacey that two children in the town had contracted the disease — and that one of them got an autograph from Gobert in Boston at the Jazz’s March 6 game against the Celtics at the TD Garden.

The Providence Journal quoted Lacey as saying that one of the children had recently returned from a cruise to the Bahamas, and that the other had come into contact with an unnamed Jazz player at last week’s game against the Celtics.

Scott Isaacs, news director for NBC 10 in Rhode Island, reported the player to be Gobert.

Whether that contact is meaningful seems dubious.

That Rhode Island officials even mentioned the interaction gives the implication that Gobert may be responsible for the child’s positive test. Conversely, the Utah Department of Health told Jazz media that, with Gobert not developing symptoms until Tuesday of this week, “We have no worries about your March 2-7 contact with [him].”

UDOH further advised that those who had not been in close contact with Gobert — defined as within six feet for a duration of 15 or more minutes — on or after March 9 “are at low risk of developing symptoms for COVID-19.”

In fact, a statement issued by the Celtics on Thursday noted that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health “has advised us that based on [Gobert’s and Mitchell’s] health statuses during this period, it is unlikely that anyone from the team came into contact with [the Jazz players] while they were contagious.”

In order to help combat some of the potentially misleading information out there, the Jazz took the step of detailing their meeting with Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist for UDOH upon arriving back from Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Among the details that Dunn shared with the Jazz’s traveling party:

• While those who had close contact with Gobert and Mitchell (or any who’s tested positive for COVID-19) should limit their public contact, they don’t need to be altogether cut off from the public or their families.

• That said, when going out in public, they should attempt to limit interactions, from trying to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people, to going to grocery stores during off-hours.

• Their families and children “do not pose any risk to the community” and can “go about their daily lives as usual, including attending school or daycare, shopping at grocery stores, going to the park, or visiting friends in their homes.”

“The families and loved ones of Jazz players who have not had close contact with the two positive cases pose absolutely no risk to the general public,” said Dunn.

Jazz players themselves, however, are participating in a 14-day self-quarantine.

As a result of Gobert’s positive test, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reached out to the All-Star center to encourage him to participate in making a public service announcement to help combat the spread of coronavirus, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported.

In addition to the idea revolving around Gobert’s status the so-called “Patient Zero” for COVID-19 among professional athletes in North America, also playing into it was his perceived dismissiveness of the seriousness of the pandemic, as famously illustrated by his decision to touch all of the microphones and recorders before him during his post-shootaround media session on Monday.

"We actually think we can use this hiatus to use this platform we have on social media to help people deal with this disease,” Ourand quoted Silver as saying.

As for some of the more minor developments related to the coronavirus concerns, with Silver’s revelation Thursday that the NBA will be shut down for at least 30 days, the Jazz on Friday addressed the ticket concerns of their customers.

The organization announced that tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be good for when the game is rescheduled, or can be refunded at the point of purchase upon request.

Tickets purchased as part of mini-plans, half-season and season ticket packages will be honored when the games resume, though if the season is officially canceled, they can either be credited to the next season or refunded.

And finally, though it comes as no surprise, given the myriad mandated “social distancing” taking place in public locales throughout the country, Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment announced Friday morning that the four concerts scheduled to take place at Vivint Smart Home Arena through the end of April (Post Malone on March 21; Celine Dion on March 26; JoJo Siwa on March 27; and Cher on April 28) have all been postponed.