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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The NFL, NBA and MLS have all enlisted the same company, BioReference Laboratories, to handle coronavirus testing during their respective restarts.

The big picture: Coronavirus testing in sports has become a hot-button issue, with some concerned that leagues are consuming limited resources while many Americans either can't get tested or have to wait too long for results.

  • BioReference chairman Jon Cohen pushed back against that narrative, saying the company's work with sports leagues hasn't impacted its ability to test the general public in Florida and other states where it has facilities.
  • "Our current capacity is somewhere in the vicinity of 50,000 to 70,000 tests a day," he told The Athletic's Joe Vardon (subscription). "So the amount of testing we're doing for the sports franchises is minimal compared to our total testing."

NFL: testing will reportedly cost around $75 million, and will be evenly paid for by all 32 teams. The fee includes 120 tests per team per day, with the option to add additional tests for $125 each.

  • NBA: Players receive both a nasal and saliva swab every other day, administered by the ~100 BioReference employees living in the bubble. The samples are driven 75 minutes away to a lab in Melbourne, Florida, for analysis.
  • MLS: Like its Disney World counterpart, players are tested every other day. There hasn't been a positive test among the 24 participating clubs since July 10. Tests take 12–15 hours to process.
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

The impact: Shares in BioReference's parent company, OPKO Health, are up nearly 300% since the start of the year, and the stock has surged since testing began in the NBA and MLS bubbles.

Other testing partners:

Go deeper

Nov 5, 2020 - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 new COVID-19 cases for first time

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. reported 103,087 new daily coronavirus infections on Wednesday, setting a single-day record for cases, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Why it matters: This is the first time the U.S. has reported over 100,000 new cases in a single day — a reminder of the high stakes of the election as votes continue to be tabulated.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 4, 2020 - World

Italy imposes regional lockdown as coronavirus cases spike

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (c) made the call. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago.

The big picture: Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 4, 2020 - Health

Air pollution connected to higher COVID-19 death rates

Smokestacks in Florida. Photo: Getty Images

A new study of more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. finds a correlation between higher levels of particulate air pollution and higher death rates from COVID-19.

Why it matters: COVID-19 may be caused by the novel coronavirus, but the outcome of an infection is influenced by everything from age to race to the environment. Understanding the connection between disease and pollution can help us address those risks going forward.

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