Positive Tests Crop Up In NHL; More Clarity Unlikely Until Camps Open
The NHL indicated that 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last three weeks, but one "won’t be able to gain a full picture about the rate of infection in the NHL population until training camps open next month," according to Chris Johnston of SPORTSNET.ca. Fifteen of the positive tests announced yesterday "came from those participating in voluntary small-group workouts at NHL facilities." The other 11 positives came from players "not yet subject to regular testing under the league’s return-to-play protocol." Exhaustive testing procedures are "expected to be part of the overall package being finalized by the NHL and NHLPA." Frequent testing, physical distancing and the wearing of masks inside team facilities will "likely be part of the protocols governing training camps -- although players are expected to be allowed to stay at their own homes during Phase 3." Given that more than 400 NHLers "aren’t currently being tested at all, there’s bound to be more positive results" if the league keeps moving toward a restart. Preventing an outbreak among the playing population is "vital to handing out the Stanley Cup this October" (SPORTSNET.ca, 6/29). TSN's Bob McKenzie asked, "Are there going to be so many positive tests in Phase 2 and Phase 3 that you never really get to Phase 4 because it undermines everything you're trying to do in a lockdown bubble environment? I don't know the answer to that question, but it obviously is concerning to have 26 positive tests in Phase 2 so far" (“That’s Hockey,” TSN, 6/29).
DECIPHERING THE DATA: In Vancouver, Patrick Johnston notes there is a "gap in the NHL's data," as it is unknown the "distribution of where the team-tested 15 positive players are." Emory Univ. epidemiologist Dr. Zach Binney indicated that if they are "spread pretty out evenly amongst the teams, that's OK." Binney said, "If it's five cases on three teams, I'm much more concerned" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 6/30).