Edmonton

Edmonton Elks approaching CFL's 85% vaccination rate benchmark, team says

The vaccination rate among Edmonton Elks players and coaches is nearly high enough for the team to avoid forfeiting a game to the Toronto Argonauts, assuming the game can be rescheduled.

83.5 per cent of players, coaches have at least 1 dose of vaccine against COVID-19

14 Edmonton Elks players have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning from an away game in Vancouver last week. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The vaccination rate among Edmonton Elks players and coaches is nearly high enough for the team to avoid forfeiting a game to the Toronto Argonauts, assuming the game can be rescheduled, the Elks said Friday.

The team said 83.5 per cent of players and coaches have received at least one dose of vaccine.

"I'm very proud of our players, coaches, our football operations staff for where they've been for quite some time," said Elks president and CEO Chris Presson during a virtual news conference Friday afternoon.

"[The novel coronavirus] attacks those who are vaccinated and those are unvaccinated as well, and we have clearly done many things right."

Three players and/or coaches are partially vaccinated, while 63 others are fully vaccinated, the Elks said in a news release issued earlier Friday.

When factoring in people working in the front office, almost all members of the Elks organization are vaccinated for COVID-19, Presson added.

The Elks were in Vancouver on Aug. 19 to take on the B.C. Lions. Tier 1 personnel — players, coaches and support staff — were tested for COVID-19 after they returned home.

Last weekend, the CFL announced the Elks-Argos game, originally scheduled for Aug. 26, would be postponed after "a number" of Elks players tested positive for COVID-19.

If a game is postponed and cannot be rescheduled, the team battling COVID will forfeit the game, league protocols state.

But if the team can prove at least 85 per cent of its players under contract have received at least one dose of vaccine, the players will receive their salary despite the cancellation.

If the team fails to meet that 85 per cent benchmark, the entire team will not receive its salary.

Presson has previously said he is confident the game against the Argos can be rescheduled.

Meetings about rescheduling the game have been on-going and more information is expected by the team Friday evening. That will allow conversations to continue over the weekend, Presson said.

Since returning from Vancouver, 14 Elks players have tested positive for COVID-19.

No new cases were reported on Thursday, the team said Friday.

The team can't identify those who have tested positive, but any players still in COVID-19 protocols once the team resumes on-field activities will be identified in the team's first injury report, the news release said.

Alberta health officials have extended the team's isolation period from seven to 10 days.

To Presson's understanding, the extended isolation period was a precaution after positive cases were identified on Wednesday and Thursday, he said.

There have to be several days in a row without positive test results before in-person activities can proceed, Presson said.

Assuming there are no more positive test results, all Tier 1 personnel will receive daily PCR tests and stay at home through Aug. 31.

The Elks would return to the team's facilities for in-person activities on Sept. 1, to prepare for the annual Labour Day Classic against the Calgary Stampeders, in Calgary, on Sept. 6.

In the meantime, ensuring the team's personnel stays healthy, mentally and physically, is a top priority, Presson said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter with CBC Edmonton who focuses mainly on data-driven stories. Hailing from Newfoundland and Labrador, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school. He has previously worked for CBC newsrooms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he interned at the Winnipeg Free Press. You can reach him at nick.frew@cbc.ca.

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