Canada’s Western Hockey League continues to be a leader within the playing field in terms of the implementation and proper practice surrounding COVID-19 protocol in a safe return-to-play framework.
On Friday, the WHL announced that for the third-straight week, it had not registered as single positive COVID-19 test. Sure, that might be an easy accomplishment if just 20 or 30 tests were completed. Sticking with the current Canadian test positivity rate average of 3.7 percent, that would mean at least one player of those 30 tests would have his results come back as positive.
For the third-straight week, tests were administered on the Alberta-based clubs participating in the league’s return-to-play, to the tune of 177 tests. And now, from February 6 through 26, 481 total tests have been administered. Again, to which zero positives have occurred.
In looking at COVID-19 related statistics from the province of Alberta, the numbers appear even better than they might to those residing in Manitoba. On Friday, Alberta recorded 356 new cases of COVID-19, while also reporting three deaths. The total number of active COVID-19 cases is currently at 2,433. Manitoba on the other hand, reported 64 new cases and one death while sitting at 486 active cases.
Should even one test from the 481 have come back positive, the test positive rate would still remain at 0.002 percent.
Self-quarantine for Saskatchewan and Manitoba-based players began on February 20, with teams travelling to the bubble on February 27. All entering the bubble will undergo a COVID-19 test and another quarantine, followed by one more COVID-19 test in order to be allowed to participate in any team activity.
Players making up the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Winnipeg ICE will participate in games based solely out of Regina’s Brandt Centre with no fans in attendance. With play set to begin on Friday, March 12, the season schedule is yet to be released for any of the participating teams.
From the WHL:
WHL Clubs are also committed to providing private PCR testing through DynaLIFE Medical Labs, to ensure no additional strain is placed on public health. Players will be tested upon arrival to their WHL Club and once again before engaging in any team activity. DynaLIFE’s PCR testing is considered a gold standard for COVID-19 testing, and was utilized in Edmonton during the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The WHL will continue to implement an ongoing weekly private PCR testing strategy. If a WHL Club has one or more players or staff test positive for COVID-19 at any point in the season, the Club will be required to suspend its Club activities for a minimum of 14 days.
Enhanced screening for all WHL players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring through the WHL Athlete RMS Mobile Application. Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when participating on ice for games and practices. WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practice and while behind the bench during games.