It has been suggested to me that the WHL will have an announcement of some sort regarding COVID-19 precautions today (Friday) or early next week. . . . No, I have no idea what that announcement might involve, but you have to think it will involve something to do with mandatory vaccinations for all involved. After all, that is exactly what the OHL and QMJHL have done, and the WHL also plays under the CHL umbrella. . . . It can’t be easy for the WHL with 22 teams scattered across four provinces and two states, meaning that there are a whole lot of health officials with whom to deal. . . . But training camps are less than three weeks away and there are nine exhibition games scheduled for the Sept. 10 weekend. In other words, as Danny Gallivan would have said, time is of the essence.
In the meantime, some Thursday headlines from WHL country . . .
Laura Sciarpelletti, CBC Saskatchewan — COVID-19 is once again ramping up in Sask. Today spike in new cases with 141, 51 higher than Wednesday. The province hasn’t recorded this many new cases in a single day since May 30. Two more deaths. 40% of all new cases are in the 20-39 age category.
Tri-City Herald — Public health officials fear they will see a surge in deaths from COVID-19 and even higher demand for hospital care as the delta variant drives new daily cases higher. . . . The Tri-Cities area had 470 new COVID-19 cases announced on Thursday, bringing the confirmed cases reported since last Friday to 220 per day on average. That’s up from an average of 58 new cases per day just three weeks ago.
CBC News — Alberta reports 550 new COVID-19 cases, highest daily case count since late May.
Byron Hackett, Red Deer Advocate — Most cases since late May. And on Monday, the province stops most contact tracing and isolation. Good times.
CBC News, 6:26 p.m. PT — Alberta is rowing back on plans to end COVID-19 protocols including isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing by Aug. 16, a government source told CBC News. The province’s health guidelines will remain in place for now, the source said.
CHAT News Today — A month ago on July 18, there were fewer than 10 active COVID-19 cases in Medicine Hat. Now the city has a record-high 361 active cases, with 12 people currently in hospital.
CBC News — British Columbia announced 513 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Thursday, as the seven-day rolling average of new cases in the province rises to its highest level since May 21. . . . A total of 81 people are in hospital, with 33 in intensive care. Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up 40 per cent from last Thursday, when 58 people were in hospital with the disease and have doubled from their 2021 low 18 days ago.
KIRO7 Seattle — Washington superintendent Chris Reykdal requested Gov. Jay Inslee to issue an executive order to make the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for all K-12 school employees.
KATU News — Oregon — like Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana — has more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.
Guy Flaming, host of The Pipeline Show, asked his Twitter followers this week: “Should the WHL follow the lead of the OHL and QMJHL mandating full vaccination for ‘all players, coaches, trainers, team and league staff, officials, volunteers and billet families?’ ” . . . By Thursday night, he had received 335 responses with 79.1 per cent voting “Yes.”
Asked about a mandatory vaccination policy by Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, Dan Price, the Royals’ general manager and head coach, replied: “We don’t have an answer to that. The league is assessing that now. They are working with each health jurisdiction, including in the U.S.”
CTV News has reported that the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers are discussing whether to follow the Winnipeg Jets, who have mandated that all employees, event staff and guests must be fully vaccinated and that masks will be required at all home games in 2021-22. In a statement to CTV, the Oilers ssaid: ”We are in on-going conversations with Alberta Health, Canadian venues, the NHL and other key stakeholders. Once finalized, we will communicate our plan at an appropriate time in advance on the 2021-22 NHL season.” . . . The Oilers own the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and both teams use the same facility. So you are free to wonder whether a decision one way or the other by the Oilers will impact the Oil Kings. . . . As for the Calgary Flames, who own the WHL’s Hitmen, they told CTV in a statement: “We aren’t in a position to make any comments on that at this point. See you in September.”
As expected, the Kamloops Blazers introduced Mark Holick as their new associate coach on Thursday. . . . Holick, 52, will work alongside general manager and head coach Shaun Clouston. . . . Holick replaces Cory Clouston, Shaun’s brother, who left the organization on Wednesday, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his daughter. . . . Holick, the U-18 prep head coach at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., for the past three seasons, is a former WHL coach of the year. He was the head coach of the Kootenay Ice (2007-10) when he was honoured as coach of the year for 2009-10. He also was the head coach of the Prince George Cougars for three-plus seasons (2013-16). . . . In his playing days, Holick played four seasons (1984-88) with the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has a story right here explaining how Holick ended up with the Blazers.
The Vancouver Giants have acquired F Ty Thorpe, 19, from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a conditional sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Thorpe, from Brandon, was selected by the Victoria Royals in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. He was traded to the Wheat Kings in January 2018. In 136 regular-season games, all with Brandon, he had 10 goals and 20 assists. In the 2021 development season, he had three goals and three assists in 21 games.
The Portland Winterhawks have signed Czech D Marek Alscher to a WHL contract. They selected him in the CHL’s 2021 import draft on June 30. . . . Alscher, 17, had one assist in four games while playing for Czech Republic in the recently completed Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . Alscher has spent the past two seasons playing in Finland with the Pelicans organization. In 2020-21, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 games with the U-18 team. . . . The Winterhawks also hold the WHL rights to Danish D Jonas Brondberg, 20, who had six assists in 20 games in the 2021 development season. As a 20-year-old, he would be a two-spotter should he return.
The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Brendan Lee, 19, from the Everett Silvertips for G Koen MacInnes, 19. . . . Lee, from Seattle, had two goals and four assists in 17 games in the 2021 development season. In 71 career regular-season games, he has 11 goals and eight assists. The Silvertips signed the updrafted Lee out of the Colorado Thunderbirds program. . . . MacInnes backed up Nolan Maier each of the past two seasons, going 18-7-2, 2.78, .901 in 31 games. . . . Maier is expected to return for his 20-year-old season, with one of two 17-year-olds — Ethan Chadwick or Austin Elliott — backing him up. . . . In Everett, MacInnes, who is from Burnaby, B.C., will pair up with Braden Holt, 18, in goal.
CBC News — Everyone working in long-term care and assisted living in B.C., including volunteers and personal care workers, will now be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Rolling Stone — The Killers will require fans attending their New York City warmup gig on August 19th to be both vaccinated and show a negative Covid test.
Claudia Cautillo, CTV News — Queen’s University now among growing number of Canadian universities requiring all students, staff, and faculty returning to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Note: In the past couple of days, Carleton U, U of Guelph, U of Ottawa, U of Toronto, and Western all have gone public with mandatory vaccination protocols.)
The Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls of baseball’s West Coast League may not be playing this season because of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. The teams are owned by Shwing Batter Investment Group and it has announced that vaccinations will be mandatory for all players, coaches and staff members. The protocol also will apply to the Victoria Golden Tide, a new team that is to play in the Canadian College Baseball Conference. . . . “Our people are out in the community,” Jim Swanson, the organization’s managing partner, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist. “Our programs travel — we take ferries, and cross borders — we cannot operate in a bubble. The programs are too complex.”
Proving that COVID-19 hasn’t forgotten about the stocks, Max Papis has tested positive so won’t be running this weekend in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series on the Indy road course. Papis, 51, was going to race for the first time since 2013 this weekend. . . . J.J. Yeley will replace Papis behind the wheel of the No. 17 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
CBC News: The Toronto International Film Festival says proof of COVID-19 vaccination won’t be required to enter its venues, but masks will be mandatory for anyone attending in-person screenings, and talent and media will be tested regularly.
KETV NewsWatch 7 — Nebraska health care systems will require employees to get vaccinated.
The New York Times — San Francisco will impose some of the toughest restrictions on unvaccinated people in the U.S., barring them from indoor dining, bars, gyms and more.
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