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Phoenix’s Jessica Breland to sit out 2020 season due to long-term effects of chemotherapy

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Phoenix Mercury forward Jessica Breland has been excused from the 2020 WNBA season due to her high-risk situation. Additionally, the results of WNBA player coronavirus tests were released on Monday. Seven more players have tested positive for the virus, including two members of the Indiana Fever, Megan Walker of the New York Liberty and Natisha Hiedeman and Briann January of the Connecticut Sun.

WNBA: SEP 03 Atlanta Dream at Los Angeles Sparks
Jessica Breland was acquired by the Mercury in a trade on Feb. 19.
Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jessica Breland of the Phoenix Mercury has been medically excused from the 2020 season, the team announced on Sunday. Breland is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor and had the following to say in a statement:

These last two weeks have been really hard for me. As a cancer survivor you fear a relapse, but you never think about the long-term effects chemotherapy reeked (wreaked) on your body. The threat of COVID-19 has forced me to acknowledge a harsh reality — although I am one of the top 144 WNBA players, my battle with cancer years ago left me vulnerable to coronavirus. With a heavy heart, I will be sitting out the upcoming WNBA season. I am blessed to have the Phoenix family behind me and their full support. I wish everyone the best in Florida, and I’ll be thinking of you and cheering from afar!

Breland has played eight seasons in the WNBA and averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Atlanta Dream in 2019.

More news on COVID-19

In a statement on Sunday, the Connecticut Sun revealed that veteran point guard Briann January and second-year player Natisha Hiedeman both tested positive for the coronavirus between June 28 and July 5. According to the statement, both players intend to travel to Florida to join the team once healthy.

January and Hiedeman both need two more negative tests in order to travel. They will also continue self-isolation and testing when they get to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida — the host site of the 2020 WNBA season. The WNBA will be playing there in an effort to minimize the possibility of exposure to the coronavirus.

In a Twitter statement on Friday, the New York Liberty announced that rookie Megan Walker tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the team’s departure to Bradenton, Florida, on July 6.

Walker, a 6-foot-1 small forward and one of the best scorers in the nation before leaving the UConn Huskies after her junior campaign, was the ninth overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft.

The Liberty shared that Walker is asymptomatic and plans to self-isolate in an effort to return to the team.

Coronavirus testing for the WNBA wrapped up this past Sunday and seven players tested positive between June 28 and July 5, according to a statement from the league. Walker’s teammate Asia Durr tested positive for the coronavirus on June 8, was diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and opted out of the season amid an “arduous” and ongoing return to health.

All players who have tested positive still have a chance to join their teams at IMG Academy, but first they must self-isolate and be cleared by a doctor.

The plan of having teams travel to Bradenton on Monday came to fruition for 11 of the 12 WNBA teams. The one team that did not travel on Monday was the Indiana Fever, who had two players test positive. The Fever delayed their plans for five days and arrived at IMG Academy on Saturday.

On June 27, Chicago Sky guard Sydney Colson announced on Twitter that she had tested positive for the coronavirus, joining Sydney Wiese of the Los Angeles Sparks and Sky teammate Stefanie Dolson, who both tested positive prior to June 27 and already had recovered.