If the past year has proven anything, it has been the inability of the politicians and health officials from the various provinces to work together. Forget about them being on the same page; they aren’t even reading from different chapters in the same book.
I would go so far as to say that this is one of the most disappointing things to come out of the pandemic.
Lockdown? Stop complaining. We have yet to see a complete lockdown, certainly not in western Canada. And it’s too late now because COVID-19 is so entrenched that a true lockdown isn’t going to keep it and its variants from multiplying. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t have been locked down months ago, just for six or eight weeks, because I really would like to know what normal would look like today had that happened.
But, of course, the embarrassingly selfish society that we have created and in which we now live couldn’t live with that kind of inconvenience for any length of time.
So we are where we are today, entirely dependent on vaccines, and we are going to need to get perhaps 70 per cent of the population inoculated before we are able to find out what the new normal will be.
In the meantime, consider the following and then try to figure out how the politicians and health officials are making their decisions . . .
Other than the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, there aren’t any hockey games being played in Manitoba. That has been the case since late October or early November.
The province’s two WHL teams — the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice — are secluded in school dorms in Regina where they are playing in that league’s developmental season with five teams from Saskatchewan.
The 12-team MJHL cancelled the remainder of its season on Feb. 12, explaining that “in the end, our advocacy efforts were not enough for Public Health to allow for a return to on-ice team training activity, even in a non-contact, professionally managed, closed to public, distanced, 100 per cent masked and extremely protected environment.”
Cameron MacLean, CBC News — Manitoba won’t move down to orange-level COVID-19 pandemic restrictions after spending more than four months in the red zone, the province said on Tuesday. The decision to keep the province at the highest level of restrictions during the pandemic stemmed from feedback from Manitobans, concern over rising numbers of more transmissible coronavirus variants, and the need to maintain stability in the health-care system, the province said.
680 CJOB — Another Manitoban with COVID-19 has died and the province says an additional 98 people have been infected with the virus. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5.3 per cent provincially and 3.9 per cent in Winnipeg.
Next door in Saskatchewan, the 12-team SJHL announced Tuesday that its season is over. In a news release, the league said: “A decision by Saskatchewan Government and Health has been made on the submissions that have been before them; unfortunately the SJHL will not be allowed to return to play.”
Taylor Shire of Global Regina reported that the SJHL proposed putting seven teams into a Weyburn hub, with the other five teams having decided to opt out of continuing the season.
The WHL has seven teams playing in a Regina hub, with players staying in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College. According to Shire, the SJHL plan called for teams to stay in two Weyburn hotels, one of which would still have been open to the public. According to Shire, SJHL president Bill Chow told him that the league “had a process in place it felt would be able to overcome the public/hockey players interaction in the partial hotel but he said SK Gov/health authority were not ok with this and the submission was not approved.”
Shire also reported that the SJHL could have “altered the proposal and submitted it again . . . which would have taken two to three more weeks.”
Instead, the SJHL held a governors’ meeting on Monday night and decided to end the uncertainty.
The SJHL, which received $1 million from the Saskatchewan government in January, last played on Nov. 23.
With COVID-19 numbers in Regina seemingly out of control, the province has announced that effective immediately “travel is not recommended in or out of the Regina area unless absolutely necessary” and that effective Sunday “event venues such as conference facilities, museums, libraries, live theatre, cinemas, bowling or any non-essential indoor locations that had limits of 30 individuals are not permitted to operate.”
CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 150 new COVID-19 cases, just below the province’s 7-day average of 158. However, the daily number has fluctuated dramatically during that time, from a low of 87 to a high of 205. . . . From CBC’s Adam Hunter: Due to increased COVID-19 transmission risk in Regina area all indoor gatherings must be household only effective immediately. As of Sunday, restaurants, bars must close to in-person dining. Non-essential indoor venues like movie houses, museums must close. . . . Restaurants to close Sunday, private gatherings banned under new Regina public health orders.
That brings us to Alberta, where the WHL’s five teams have been playing since Feb. 26, with the schedule now calling for six games involving four teams each weekend. One of the teams has a bye each weekend, while the other four play tripleheaders — one here, one there, one here — with no overnight trips.
The 15-team AJHL, which had two teams opt out, began play on March 12 with games on weekends. It postponed a March 20 game that was to have had the Okotoks Oilers meet the Bandits in Brooks “due to precautionary measures within the AJHL Return-to-Play Plan.” The Bandits played the Canucks in Calgary the next night.
Who knows what happened with the Oilers or Bandits, and the AJHL has things locked down when it comes to anyone mentioning COVID-19. The last AJHL insider to discuss the subject with the media now is believed to be roommates with Alexei Navalny.
CBC News — Alberta reports 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. 197 new variants of concern cases recorded Tuesday, making it the highest daily variant case count to date. Variant cases now account for 18 per cent of all active cases in the province. . . . The province reported Tuesday that 290 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, 53 in intensive care beds. . . . The Alberta government will not move into the next phase of reopening, Step 3. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Monday that no restrictions will be eased at this time because hospitalizations are on the rise. . . . Hospitals in Alberta are preparing for a third wave of the pandemic, driven by more aggressive variants of the coronavirus. Doctor says teams are planning how to isolate those with variants.
In B.C., where COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, the five WHL teams are to start playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna on Friday. The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals are set up in Kelowna, with the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants holed up in Kamloops. The Blazers and Rockets are with billets; the other three teams are in hotels.
The WHL announced a positive test “within the Rockets team cohort” on March 18, but nary a word has been said since then, and Kelowna’s scheduled wasn’t impacted.
Meanwhile, as the SJHL was announcing that it was done until September, the BCHL was revealing a 20-game schedule that will open on April 2 and conclude May 9. The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild is out due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, while the Langley Rivermen opted out of a return to play. That leaves 16 teams left, with each assigned to one of five pods— in Chilliwack, Coquitlam (games will be played in Burnaby), Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon.
All three of B.C.’s junior B leagues had already announced they were done for this season.
CBC News — B.C. records 682 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. There are 314 people in hospital with the disease — the highest total since Jan. 25 — including 83 in intensive care. . . . The latest numbers mean that the seven-day rolling average of new cases has hit 617, the highest since Dec. 20. . . . There are currently 5,409 active cases of coronavirus in the province, the highest total since Jan. 9. Public health is now monitoring 9,488 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.
Rod Mickleburgh, former Globe and Mail correspondent — BC reported more new COVID-19 cases Tuesday than the state of Washington (682 compared with 566) . . . that may be a first.
And as of Monday evening there had been 22,735 deaths in Canada, including 19 on Tuesday. There have been 942,325 confirmed cases, with 3,607 of those reported on Tuesday. There have been 883,280 recoveries.
The virus found the NHL’s Canadian division this week, with the Montreal Canadiens having been shut down through Sunday. They put F Joel Armia and F Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the COVID-19 list and by Sunday will have had four games postponed. They were to have played Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers and Sunday at home against the Ottawa Senators. . . . These are the first postponements involving Canadian teams this season. . . . The Canadiens hope to return to practice on Monday. . . . The Oilers are scheduled to play the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. . . .
Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins, with five players on the protocol list, hope to skate today (Wednesday). The Bruins are scheduled to meet the visiting New York Islanders on Thursday, and there should be some fans in attendance for the first time since March 7, 2020. . . . Boston hasn’t played since beating the Sabres 4-1 in Buffalo on Thursday. Forwards Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith went on the protocol list the next day. . . . The Bruins were to have played the Sabres again on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday.
The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have played at home against the Rochester Americans tonight (Wednesday). But the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, the fifth straight Utica game to meet that fate.
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