The number of Edmonton Elks players who have tested positive for COVID-19 has officially grown to nine.
Team president and CEO Chris Presson spoke to the media on Monday and confirmed that four new positive tests had occurred since the five that were initially detected on Sunday.
“Not only was this a wake-up call for our organization, but I would suggest it’s a wake-up call for the entire league to continue doing what they’re doing to stay clean,” said Presson in a videoconference.
He declined to identify the players or their vaccination status, though he confirmed that the group included a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated players. The team has not yet determined why this outbreak has occurred.
Edmonton’s facilities have been closed for seven days and Thursday’s game against the Toronto Argonauts has been postponed. All players and coaches are currently isolating and the team will conduct daily testing to ensure any further COVID-19 cases are detected.
Presson indicated that the league has taken the lead on arranging a new date and time for their game against the Argos and feels confident that the game will not be cancelled. He also stated that there is a chance the game will be played in Edmonton if BMO Field in Toronto is unavailable later in the year.
The Elks are set to play in Calgary on Monday, Sept. 6 as part of the CFL’s Labour Day Weekend. Presson indicated that it’s too early to determine whether or not that game is at risk of being postponed.
“I think we’re a bit too early to determine where we are with Labour Day,” he said. “I would suggest that because this is such a moving target that we need to see what the tests the remainder of this week produce. Hopefully they’re all negative and if not, we have to react to that.”
Three players on the Elks tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago, including offensive tackle SirVincent Rogers. There was no evidence of further spread on the team, which allowed the schedule to continue as normal.
“It’s our job is to make sure that going forward, everyone is safe, feels safe, so we can get back on the field to play football again,” said Presson. “I’m comfortable with everything that’s gone on and goes on within the premise of our facility. Our guys have done a great job. If anything we’ve overdelivered the message of how contagious this is and why it’s important to follow the protocols.”
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats recently reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold that the CFL recently set to incentivize players to get vaccinated, which the Elks have reportedly not yet met. In the event that a game is cancelled, players will not receive a game cheque if they are a member of a team with a vaccination rate that is lower than 85 percent.
Presson indicated on Monday that the Elks are the third-lowest vaccinated team in the nine-team CFL.
Edmonton is currently 1-2 on the season following a Week 3 victory over the B.C. Lions by a score of 21-16.