Since the approval of the NHL return to play format many fans have had differing opinions. Some wanting more than anything to see their favorite teams play, while others think it's time to scrap the season and move on. Canadian sports network Sportsnet recently had a video interview with Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer. Topics from daily case numbers to the NHL safety protocols were discussed. I believe her medical background and expertise provide a different perspective than we normally see. After all, she was one of the medical experts who put together many of the protocols the league is now following.
The most recent reported numbers of COVID-19 are between 70-90 cases per day. Those numbers aren't just for Edmonton but the entire province of Alberta. A stark contrast to what is happening across our country. According to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the bubble serves a dual purpose. Protecting the players and coaches inside, while also protecting the public from a positive case occurring inside the bubble. Additionally, athletes, coaches, and anyone in close contact with them will undergo daily tests and symptom checks. Some concerns have been raised about the risk of bringing in athletes from outside the country. However, Doctor Hinshaw points to protocols already in place minimizing the possibility of a positive case being brought to the area. Just look at the recent David Pastrnak situation. Pastrnak came in contact with an infected individual and is being held out of camp until all protocol requirements are met.
While the interview goes over some information we already knew it does bring new things to light. First being that social distancing and masks will be used while players and coaches aren't on the ice. Second and most notable we learn what the protocols around a positive test in the bubble include. Infected individuals must isolate for ten days, or until their symptoms are resolved, whichever is longer.
However, instead of going to a local hospital medical treatment will be administered inside the bubble in isolation. At this point an investigation would be launched to find those who came in contact with the tested party. Once identified they would be informed of the close contact risk. Additionally, anyone they were supposed to come in contact with over the next fourteen days would also be informed. Finally daily testing would be administered as close to game times as possible. All of these precautions are being used to mitigate the spreading of the virus should a positive case occur.
At multiple points in the interview Dr. Deena Hinshaw expressed confidence in the effectiveness of the protocols. She has no problem stating the likelihood of a potential outbreak is exceedingly small. One of the more interesting points covers the worst-case scenario of an outbreak. If this was to happen the provincial government could step in and shut the playoffs down in the interest of public safety. Again, Dr. Hinshaw emphasized the very low risk of this possibility. She even went on to praise the league for how seriously it was taking public health protocols. According to Dr. Hinshaw, the greatest risk to the public comes from the public itself.
As the restrictions continue everyone wants to just move on with normal life. Even something like watching a sporting event represents a return of something normal. The distraction it provides, and small return to normalcy, will go a long way to helping the mental health of all those affected. Having an actual medical professional saying she believes the playoffs can happen is huge. Many fans have expressed concerns over public and player safety. Hopefully this information can help alleviate those by showing how seriously the league is taking safety protocols. With a lot of news going around the sports world keep checking back with us for all the latest updates. As always stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!
Featured image courtesy of AFP Photo/Codie Mclachlan.