R.I. child tests positive for COVID-19; got autograph from Rudy Gobert at TD Garden, police say

It's unclear if the child got the disease from the Utah Jazz player.

A view outside of TD Garden. Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Local police in Rhode Island say a student in the state has tested positive for COVID-19 after getting an autograph at TD Garden in Boston from an NBA player who has also since tested positive for the disease, though it’s unclear whether the player was contagious at the time.

In a press conference Friday afternoon, Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey announced that two young children — a second-grader and a pre-schooler — that live in the town had tested positive for the new coronavirus, after state officials said earlier in the day that the number of presumptive cases in Rhode Island had increased to 14. Both children, who go to different schools, are being self-quarantined at home with their families, officials said.


Asked whether there was any information about how they contracted the disease, Lacey said one of the children had recently returned from a cruise from the Bahamas and the other had attended an NBA game at TD Garden last week and had gotten an autograph from a player that had contracted the virus.

Two NBA players reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 this week: Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, both of whom play for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz played the Boston Celtics at TD Garden last Friday, March 6. And while Lacey did not specify during the press conference which player gave the child an autograph, he told Boston.com in an email Friday afternoon that the kid’s parents told him it was Gobert.

Still, it’s not clear the child, who officials are not identifying, contracted the virus from Gobert; TD Garden says that state health officials believe it is unlikely the two Jazz players were contagious while in Boston.

“TD Garden and Boston Celtics have talked with health officials who assured us that based on the affected players’ health statuses, it is highly unlikely that anyone from the Celtics team came into contact with them while they were contagious,” the arena said in a statement Thursday. “Furthermore, the risk is low for guests, players and associates who were at the Celtics game on Friday, March 6 and events thereafter.”


Nevertheless, the Celtics are self-quarantining through the weekend out of “an abundance of caution.” The NBA suspended their season indefinitely Wednesday night after news broke that Gobert had tested positive. The Jazz also practiced at Emerson College last week, though officials at the school said Thursday that no immediate action was currently required.

Gobert issued a public apology Thursday for acting carelessly over the last week, even though he did not know he was infected.

“I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously,” the All-Star center wrote. “I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus .”


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