The Edmonton Elks say nine players have tested positive for COVID-19 since the club returned home from a game against the B.C. Lions.
The Elks confirmed that five players tested positive on Sunday and four additional players tested positive Monday.
Team president and chief executive officer Chris Presson said players and staff are isolating and the team’s practice facility has been shut down for seven days.
“Everyone has been tested, both from a PCR standpoint and a rapid standpoint and we’ll continue to test daily until we’re clean,” Presson told reporters Monday.
The update comes a day after the CFL postponed Thursday’s game between the Argonauts and Elks at Toronto after an unspecified number of Edmonton players tested positive.
“It’s been a challenging last two or three days, to put it mildly,” Presson said.
Edmonton’s last game was a 21-16 victory over the Lions on Thursday in Vancouver. The CFL said the Lions would be closely monitored this week but that they were not exposed to a high risk of infection. The Lions are scheduled to play the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 28.
Presson said the positive tests came from “a mix” of vaccinated and unvaccinated players, but did not provide names or more specific numerical breakdown.
“Obviously we picked it up somewhere and we’re going to have to remain extremely diligent,” he said. “Not only was this a wake-up call for our organization, bit I would suggest it’s a wake-up call for the entire league to continue to do what they’re doing to stay clean.”
Presson said he is confident the game against the Argonauts will be made up at some point in the season.
According to CFL protocols, if a game is cancelled due to COVID-19 issues and can’t be rescheduled, the club suffering from the COVID-19 issues will forfeit a 1-0 loss. If both squads have COVID-19 issues, each will forfeit the game and be assigned losses.
In either scenario, if a team can prove at least 85 per cent of its players under contract have been vaccinated, at least once, the players will receive their salary for the cancelled game. If that figure falls below 85 per cent, players won’t be paid.
Presson said he couldn’t say how many players on his team have been vaccinated, other than “it’s greater than not.”
Asked about reports that the Elks had the lowest vaccination rate among players in the CFL, Presson said at least two other teams had lower rates when he last saw the numbers.
“We can only do what we can do, which is to follow the protocols the league has laid out for us,” he said.
After three weeks of the CFL season, the Elks are the only team to report positive COVID-19 cases. Two players tested positive before the team’s season opener, with a staff member returning what ended up being a false positive.
The Elks’ next scheduled game is the annual Labour Day Classic rivalry matchup against the Stampeders in Calgary. Presson said the team will have to see how testing goes this week before addressing the status of that game.
—The Canadian Press