Blake Wesley, a former WHL player and coach, wants you to know that, if you aren’t already, you need to get serious about your approach to COVID-19. . . . “I’ve had pneumonia, I’ve had bronchitis — you can intensify that by 10 times,” he told rdnewsNOW. . . . Wesley, 61, coaches at a hockey academy in Sankt Pölten, Austria. . . . Wesley played for the Portland Winterhawks (1976-79). He also was an assistant coach with the Tri-City Americans (2001-02) and Portland (2002-04). . . .
In a story written by Josh Hall and Troy Gillard, Wesley said that despite taking all the recommended precautions he started to feel poorly on Oct. 2 and found out on Oct. 7 that he was positive. He can’t be certain, but he may have gotten infected from a colleague who also tested positive but wasn’t hospitalized. . . . Later that day, Wesley got an ambulance ride to a hospital where the medical team did tests and blood work. Doctors there then transferred him to a hospital in Lilienfield, which is about 35 minutes from Sankt Pölten. The hospital there is strictly for COVID-19 patients. . . . He was in that hospital until Oct. 23. . . .
Wesley, whose wife was in Penticton, B.C., through all of this, added: “It was exhaustive and, quite honestly, what drained me the most was when the doctors came in to do the second test and they said ‘Nope, you’re not going home.’ I got pretty weepy and teary-eyed because there’s no one there to comfort you.” . . . Wesley was discharged from hospital on Oct. 23 and feels that he now is ready to get back on the ice.
In a highly emotional Facebook post, Wesley explained the symptoms he felt: “Friday October 2. This was the day I started feeling symptoms (raging headache, heart racing, elevated BP, nausea, fatigue, weariness, respiratory infection, loss of taste, loss of appetite). Honestly, I thought I was having a heart attack, and there was someone squeezing the air out of my lungs. Dry cough, dry scratchy eyes, fever, chills. It was a horrible flu, along with pneumonia and bronchitis symptoms.”
While in that hospital, he wasn’t allowed outside his room.
“I was wheeled into the hospital by the ambulance attendants,” Wesley wrote. “That’s the last time I was outside the hospital room. I felt like a prisoner! . . . That was difficult. I thought there was a remote chance to walk about the floor outside the room. No chance of that!!”
And then things started to get worse.
“Over the next few days my symptoms worsened. . . . It was very hard to breathe, and the oxygen Infusions gave some relief. The coughing was painful. Sore throat couldn’t eat food somedays.”
According to Wesley, his daily regimen included lots of blood work, daily infusions of medication via IVs, blood-thinner injections, oral antibiotics and oxygen infusions three times a day. He said he also was treated with Remdesivir.
“There were some really challenging days — mentally, spiritually and physically,” he wrote. “I had four Corona tests while I was in the hospital. None of them were negative. I was so discouraged and disappointed when the test results came back each time.”
Finally, he was discharged on Oct. 23 and returned home. He said that by this time he didn’t have any symptoms “even though I was still positive.” He quarantined at home through Nov. 2.
On Nov. 1, he wrote that “over these past days, I have improved tremendously.”
But, he added, “I never want to have a reoccurrence of this nightmare!!”
In summing up, he wrote:
“I thought I was immune to this virus!!!
“I wore a mask, I always did my best to take all the necessary precautions. I will be vigilant every day. Good nutrition, sanitizing my hands, wearing a mask, distancing . . . the virus is powerful, and we are mere mortals in its path.
“Wear a mask, wash your hands, and avoid physical contact.”
The story by Hall and Gillard is right here. . . . If you’re on Facebook, search for Wesley’s page and read his story in its entirety.
And now it’s the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s turn to deal with COVID-19. The AJHL, which plans on opening its regular season on Nov. 13, revealed Wednesday morning that “a member” of the Whitecourt Wolverines tested positive and that the Alberta Health Services protocols had been activated.
A tweet from the AJHL stated: “For privacy reasons, no further comments will be provided.”
The Wolverines haven’t played since Oct. 17 when they beat the visiting Grande Prairie Storm, 4-2. Whitecourt’s next exhibition game was to have been played on Friday, at the Drayton Valley Thunder, but it has been cancelled. The Thunder was to have visited Whitecourt the following night but that game also has been cancelled.
The WHL has said it will open its next regular season on Jan. 8. If you’re wondering what things might look like inside arenas with limited seating capacities because of the pandemic, there were a few hints in a news release issued by the Swift Current Broncos on Wednesday.
That release deals with what the team refers to as “season-ticket deadline and process.”
Included in the release . . .
“While the comprehensive development of the guidelines and protocols are in progress and subject to change, at this point in time, we are expecting the following key measures to be included in our return-to-play protocols:
“Reduced overall capacity and a seating plan which allows for social distancing between groups of fans that are considered part of a household and/or extended household group. This will require most season-ticket holders to be moved to different seats for the 2020-21 season; however for subsequent seasons when capacities are allowed to return to normal, season-ticket holders will be returned to their regular seats.
“A requirement to create separate contained zones in the i-Plex, requiring groups to stay within their assigned zone throughout a game. Each zone will have separate parking, entrances and exits, and will have access to washrooms, concessions, merchandise store or tables, and 50/50 booths. Fans will not be able to enter into any other zone.
“At this time, fans will most likely be required to wear a face mask at all times, except when eating or drinking within their own seat.”
The Broncos also point out that “there will likely be several other guidelines and protocols to adhere to, and these may change prior to and throughout the season.”
In other words, the only sure thing these days is that things likely will change.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
From Oct. 25-31, the NFL had 42,916 tests administered to 7,884 players and team personnel. There were eight positive tests among players and 17 among other personnel. . . . Since Aug. 1, the NFL says more than 550,000 tests have been administered, and there have been positive tests for 63 players and 99 other personnel. . . .
The Detroit Lions place QB Matthew Stafford on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. It’s his second time on the list, as he was on it in August for what turned out to be a false positive. . . . According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Stafford is considered a “high-risk, close contact” of someone who tested positive. . . . That contact apparently occurred on Monday, so Matthews will be eligible to come off the list on Sunday, in time to play against the host Minnesota Vikings.
The San Francisco 49ers will be without WR Kendrick Bourne when they play host to the Green Bay Packers tonight (Thursday). Bourne, who is into self-quarantine, tested positive so won’t play. Also among San Francisco’s scratches will be LT Trent Williams, WR Brandon Aiyuk and WR Deebo Samuel, who are seen as high-risk contacts to Bourne and went on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . San Francisco, which also will be without more than a dozen injured players, including QB Jimmy Garoppolo and TE George Kittle, shut down its facility on Wednesday and held virtual meetings. There are more test results due Thursday. . . . The game is still scheduled to be played, at least until those results are seen. . . . The Packers are without RB AJ Dillon, who came up positive on Monday. RB Jamaal Williams and LB Kamal Martin also won’t play after being designated as “high-risk” contacts. . . .
The Winnipeg Free Press reported Tuesday that one player with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard has tested positive. While the MJHL has yet to confirm the report, it did do some rescheduling of games on Wednesday. That included the postponing of two weekend games in which the Dauphin Kings were to have played the Portage Terriers “due to precautionary public health concerns.” The Kings played host to the Blizzard on Saturday night. . . . Why hasn’t the MJHL commented on the positive test? According to a news release that included scheduling changes, “Public Health (is) the only informed authority to provide public information via daily bulletins on possible exposure, close contact to exposure or the declaration of an outbreak.” . . . That news release is right here. . . .
The Pac-12 football season is scheduled to start on Saturday. Whoops! Guess what? . . . On Wednesday, the U of California, Berkley, athletic department released a statement indicating that “a member of the Cal football program has tested positive . . . marking the first positive test within the program since the start of daily testing” early in October. The statement also said that “several student-athletes were held out of practice Wednesday as a precautionary measure while contact tracing is being completed.” . . . Cal is scheduled to play host to the Washington Huskies on Saturday night, but that game may well be in jeopardy now. . . .
The U of Louisville has paused all football activities after 10 players and five support staff members tested positive. The Cardinals were to have played at the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday, but the game has been postponed to Nov. 14. . . .
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported Wednesday that the five members of Fox Sports’ Big Noon Kickoff show won’t appear this week “due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols.” . . . Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Urban Meyer, Brady Quinn and host Rob Stone will be held off the network’s college football pregame show on Saturday prior to the USC-Arizona State game. . . . Marchand reported that Fox Sports will have Emmanuel Acho, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and host Charissa Thompson on the program that will be one hour long instead of its normal two. . . .
The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), which has 17 member schools, announced Wednesday that it “has officially cancelled the 2021 extended winter semester of athletics.” . . . According to a news release, “A surge in COVID-19 cases in Alberta has caused the majority of ACAC member institutions to extend on-line academic program delivery into the winter 2021 semester in the interests of protecting the health and safety of students and the broader community.” . . . For most of the schools involved, that takes care of basketball, volleyball and futsal for this season.
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