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The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have agreed to shorten the mandatory isolation period for some players who test positive for COVID-19, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Players could be eligible to return as soon as six days after testing positive, depending on cycle threshold (CT), as first reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The details were shared with teams on Monday, per Wojnarowski, and already many players and coaches are expected to be cleared from protocols if the COVID-19 testing data shows they are no longer infectious. Players who are vaccinated and have received their booster have been shown to overcome the virus sooner, per ESPN, compared to those who have not received a booster shot. 

This new plan modifies the existing health and safety protocols, which stipulate that a player who tests positive must quarantine until either a) 10 days after the initial positive test or the onset of symptoms, 24 hours after a fever has subsided without medication and the CT is greater than 30; or b) the player tests negative on two PCR tests, 24 hours apart. 

In an interview with Malika Andrews on ESPN's "NBA Today" last week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the league was "actively looking at" changing the default quarantine period for players who have received booster shots.

"We always are measuring viral loads with our PCR tests, that's part of the protocol," Silver said. "And so it's something ... not just our doctors, but the medical community is looking at. One, I think they're already realizing that you can move away from the 10-day protocol when you have players who are vaccinated and boosted. It seems like the virus runs through their systems faster. They become not just asymptomatic but, more importantly, they're not shedding the virus anymore. That's the real concern, in terms of (spreading the virus to) others. We are actively looking at shortening the amount of days that a player is out before he can return to the floor."

Under the current protocols, each player's specific return-to-play timeline is variable. Players with moderate to severe symptoms can't exercise for at least 10 days following symptom onset and must go through cardiac screening before being cleared. Players with mild symptoms cannot exercise for at least seven days following symptom onset. Asymptomatic players cannot exercise for three days following the positive test. All players must be cleared by a team and league doctor before they can play in games, and players must be monitored by a cardiologist for a period of time if they have moderate (minimum 48 hours) or severe (minimum 72 hours) symptoms. 

But now, based on these new guidelines, it sounds as though players who are asymptomatic and not contagious after six days will be able to exit quarantine, which will be easier on the league as teams have been scrambling to suit up the required eight players needed to play.