Utah Jazz v Oklahoma City Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - FEBRUARY 21: A wide angle view of Chesapeake Energy Arena before the Utah Jazz game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 21, 2020 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Ingles Insight: Joe and Renae recall an unnerving night in OKC and discuss COVID-19 with Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn

by Aaron Falk

The crowds in Oklahoma City are always loud, so Joe Ingles moved in closer to try to hear what the referees were talking about at the scorer’s table.

“The only thing I heard them saying is, ‘Are you going to tell the coaches or am I?” Ingles recalls. “I just thought, ‘This isn’t good.’”

It has been 12 days since the Utah Jazz and the OKC Thunder were called off the court before tipoff, 12 days since the first player tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA season was suspended. It has been a surreal 12 days for the world—Ingles and his family included.

On the second episode of the Ingles Insight podcast, the Utah Jazz forward and his wife, Renae Ingles, share their experiences—from an anxious night in Oklahoma to their days in quarantine—and their feelings as they’ve dealt with the uncertainty of the global Coronavirus pandemic. The Ingleses were also joined by Utah state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, who helped orchestrate the Jazz’s safe return to Utah from Oklahoma City earlier this month.

A rundown of the episode:

0:50 — Catching up on everyone’s self-quarantine
5:15 — Welcoming in Dr. Angela Dunn (@DrAngelaCDunn), Utah’s epidemiologist 
9:30 — Why we should refer to Coronavirus as COVID-19
20:45 — What it means to “Flatten the curve”
25:55 — How the earthquake affected the COVID response team
32:30 — Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox gives an update on the state’s response
39:15 — The effects on the economy
43:00 — “Now is not the time to fight through a cold.”
44:30 — Renae’s challenge to Aaron and Joe '

Joe Ingles said that night in Oklahoma was “an experience I’ll never forget.”

That day, March 11, started with two Jazz players feeling under the weather. Ingles and his teammates knew Rudy Gobert and Emmanuel Mudiay would sit out the game as they awaited testing. But the Jazz veteran couldn’t have predicted what happened next.

“I was standing at half court, trying to motivate the starters to be ready for the game and then a guy in a really nice suit came sprinting onto the court,” he said. “… We never got told anything until we were back in the locker room. We walked off the court. The fans were asking what was going on. We had no idea what was going on.”

The team waited for hours inside the Thunder’s arena before eventually being tested by medical professionals covered head-to-toe in protective gear.

“The test is horrible,” Ingles said. “They shove a swab down your throat for 10 seconds and wiggle it around. … And then before you know it there’s a swab going up your nose and it feels like it touches the back of your head. My eyes were watering. It all looked like we’d been crying for hours after it.”

The Jazz had planned on flying out of Oklahoma immediately after the game and the hotel the team had stayed at the night before was completely booked, leaving team officials scrambling to find another place to stay. Both Joe and Renae Ingles said they did not sleep that night as they awaited the results of Joe’s test.

“Part of it was nerves,” Joe Ingles said. “Am I positive or not? And with my family, the worst fear with me is if I’ve got it does Renae and [our children]?”

Some of those fears were alleviated when Ingles received a negative test result the following morning.

“It was a scary, nervous, I hope once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Joe said.

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