Edmonton Elks boost COVID vaccinations, rescheduled Argonaut game still up in the air

·3 min read

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks say they’re now up to almost 84 per cent of players and coaches vaccinated for COVID-19, but the postponed game with the Toronto Argonauts remains up in the air.

“We’re certainly trying to work through it. It involves a numbers of parties as you can imagine,” Elks president Chris Presson told reporters via Zoom Friday.

“We’re doing all we can to make sure that game is rescheduled.”

The Elks have 14 players who have tested positive for COVID, but Friday was the first day in a week there were no new cases.

“We’ve come through with one day of negative tests and we need to build on that,” said Presson.

The team is not releasing names of the COVID cases, citing privacy rules.

Based on advice from provincial health officials, the team's isolation period has been extended from seven to 10 days.

All players coaches and staff will continue to receive daily tests and remain at home in isolation through Tuesday.

The Elks (1-2) plan to return to their Commonwealth Stadium facilities Wednesday.

Their next scheduled game is Sept. 6 in Calgary for the annual Labour Day classic.

The Elks also announced that 63 of the 79 players and coaches are double vaccinated and another three have had one dose for a combined percentage of 83.5 per cent.

Reaching the 85 per cent mark will be key depending on the outcome of this the Argonaut game, which was postponed after the Elks reported a COVID outbreak earlier in the week.

If the game cannot be rescheduled, the Elks forfeit and the players won’t be paid unless they reach the 85 per cent vaccination threshold.

The Elks have been dealing with positive COVID tests since before the season began.

Presson said he can’t say for sure where the cases originated, but said the team is pursuing added precautions in the future to prevent a recurrence.

“We will go back to the regular protocols that were put out the first six weeks of the season, regardless of whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated,” said Presson.

“We won’t be having team dinners outside the facility. We’ll have team dinners in the hotel. We’ll just draw everyone back into closer proximity, to ground zero.

“Right now our players are isolating. They can’t even go outside to have a breath of fresh air more than just a few minutes.”

Presson agreed that vaccination would go a long way to reducing chances of future outbreaks.

The latest numbers indicate 13 of the players and coaches have not signed on to getting vaccinated.

Presson was asked if the Elks would consider more extreme moves, such as making COVID vaccination a condition of being on the team.

He declined to answer, saying it’s a matter for internal organization debate.

“I will have that discussion if we get to that point, internally,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 27 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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