If seven NBA players have COVID-19, there could be 5 Million coronavirus cases in the United States

With the news that Kevin Durant and three other Brooklyn Nets tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday brings the number of NBA players with confirmed cases to seven. That announcement more than doubled the amount of players diagnosed with COVID-19.

Can NBA Players Determine Rate of COVID-19 Cases?

So can the number of NBA players with coronavirus help us understand how much it’s been spread across the country?

No, not scientifically, but that got us thinking that because there’s 450 players in the NBA, we can use that somewhat-static number to determine a rate of infection. If we take the seven players that have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and divide it by the 450 total players, that works out to approximately 1.5% of all NBA players that have the coronavirus (that we know of).

If we use that same 1.5% infected rate of NBA players and project that onto the entire population of the United States we might be able to get a sense of how many people may *actually* have coronavirus in our country. Referencing the US Census website, as of July 2019, the population of the United States stands at 328,239,523.

By that, 1.5% of 328,239,523 means that 4,923,592. That’s nearly 5 million people that are knowingly and unknowingly infected with symptoms (like Rudy Gobert) and asymptomatic (like Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell).

NBA Players Are Rich Athletes, But They’re People, Too

Super athletes in their mid-20’s are by no means representative of the general population being impacted by the coronavirus. We also recognize that this isn’t scientific.

Unlike most people (save for business executives) NBA players travel at unusually high rates, are often surrounded by teammates, staff, opponents, media and fans. That all means there’s a lot of high-fiving, shaking hands, touching jerseys, taking selfies, and general closeness (see: not social distancing). It’s also quite a small sample size.

On the other hand, NBA players are healthy, in-shape professional athletes that have unsually high access to coronavirus tests. So considering all those factors together, their exposure and diagnoses may cancel each other out and actually give us insight to how many actual cases of coronavirus there are in the United States.

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