By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) – NBA players who test positive for COVID-19 now have a quicker path to return to play, after the league completed a significant update to its health and safety protocols on Monday.

The biggest change: Isolation periods for players who test positive may now be significantly shortened — down to six days from what has been the customary 10 —provided those players are asymptomatic and meet other testing standards. Teams were told of the new protocols Monday in a memo sent by the league, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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That memo was sent on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days. CDC officials made that move saying that evidence shows people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

CDC Director Rachel Walensky warned of a potentially massive spike in positive COVID-19 cases following Christmas.

The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With numbers on a steady rise throughout the nation, dozens of live events, sporting events and holiday celebrations have been canceled over recent weeks. Health experts suggest that those numbers are just the beginning of what may be the largest case numbers we’ve seen throughout the entire course of the pandemic.

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The NBA also relied on data, telling teams that the updated protocols “reflects analysis of testing data that the league and its infectious disease experts and epidemiologists have gathered throughout the pandemic.”

The NBA has seen coronavirus numbers soar in recent days, even with 97% of players vaccinated and at least 65% of eligible players boosted against the virus.

Multiple NBA head coaches, such as Los Angeles Lakers’ Frank Vogel and Chicago’s Billy Donovan are currently in the league’s health and safety protocols. Vogel has missed the Lakers’ last four games, and Donovan is missing his second consecutive game when the Bulls visit Atlanta on Monday.

“With Frank right now, it’s a matter of testing and getting those negative tests in,” said Lakers assistant coach David Fizdale, who is running the team in Vogel’s absence. “But he’s doing well health-wise. His spirit’s right. Obviously, he’s chomping at the bit to get back and start competing.”

A total of nine games have been postponed by the NBA so far this season.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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