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After missing four games due to COVID-19, Monty Williams is back.
Williams returned to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday morning ahead of their 123-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans after landing in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
"It feels real good," Devin Booker said, via the Arizona Republic. "We missed Coach and Coach missed us. He had a pep in his step today so it's good to have him back. It's like he never left. We've been having constant communication on the cellphone, but it's good to have him."
Williams last coached for the Suns in their Christmas Day loss to the Golden State Warriors. Phoenix has gone 2-2 since then under assistant coach Kevin Young.
Williams is one of 11 coaches who has landed in coronavirus health and safety protocols so far this season, and was one of eight out last week alone. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, 76ers coach Doc Rivers, Nuggets coach Michael Malone, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault and Hawks coach Nate McMillan are still out. Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups and Bulls coach Billy Donovan were cleared to return in recent days.
About 97% of the NBA is fully vaccinated, and the league adjusted protocols last week to allow players to return after just five days instead of the original 10 days. Just more than one-third of NBA officials are out with the coronavirus, too.
The United States is averaging more than 486,500 cases each day as of Tuesday afternoon, according to The New York Times, an all-time high that is a 239% increase over the past two weeks. There were more than 1 million new cases on Monday alone, an all-time record. About 71% of Americans aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated.