Saturday, 13 June 2020

Deja Vu

It's starting to feel like this blog has become a broken record, but one day after stating that there would be more teams than just the Boston Bruins who have a positive COVID-19 test result in Phase Two we now have a second team with a confirmed positive case. The scary part is that it's in a state where it seems a second outbreak is currently happening as the Arizona Coyotes have reported the new positive case in the NHL while the state of Arizona is seeing its coronavirus numbers grow exponentially once again. It feels like I'm repeating myself, but it should be no surprise that we've now seen a second member of a professional hockey team test positive as players and staff return to their respective teams with the NHL pushing its agenda forward as the United States continues down this rather insane path of opening their country up while not even being close to having the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

News broke out of Glendale, Arizona today when the Coyotes reported that "a staff member has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The staff member, who is in the Valley, is asymptomatic and feeling well, and is in isolation at his home. Individuals who had close contact with the staff member have been notified."

Why is this case particularly troublesome for the NHL as per this writer's view? According to AZBigMedia's report on the Arizona Department of Health's information, the "number of new COVID-19 cases in Arizona continues to rise at a record-setting pace" with "[m]ore than one-quarter of the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona" recorded in the past week.

In particular, Maricopa County where Glendale is situated currently has 17,791 cases of the nearly 35,000 cases recorded at the time that this article was published. If you're doing the math, Maricopa County has slightly more than 50% of all the cases in the state, and that's a frightening number when you consider that Maricopa County accounts for 4.485 million people of Arizona's total population of 7.279 million.

Now some will look at those numbers and say, "Teebz, that's only a 0.004% infection rate for the county". While the math works out, my guess would be that the areas that are more heavily-populated were a larger part of that 25% increase in total cases seen in the last based on how the virus is spread. That means the growth in Maricopa County will continue to be faster than other sparsely-populated areas, and I'd wager that we'll see the number of cases hit 20,000 in Maricopa County alone before the month of June is over.

Arizona told its hospitals to activate its emergency plans after this latest explosion in cases. As CNN reports, "[a]t its peak, Arizona's intensive care unit beds were 78% in use. As of Monday, 76% were occupied. Arizona's Director of Health Services Dr. Cara Christ asked that hospitals 'be judicious' in elective surgeries to ensure bed capacity."

Basically, Arizona is back to March-like numbers of COVID-19, and there's no potential relief in sight without a second shutdown to curb the spread of the virus. Do we really want NHL players flying into Phoenix, the hub of Maricopa County, and risk being infected? We already have a Coyotes staff member who was in the Valley that contracted the virus, so what are the chances that someone else will be infected if cases are rising quickly in Phoenix and the surrounding communities of Maricopa County?

I hate writing about this every day, but the long list of variables that the NHL cannot control has proven that they are just as vulnerable as you or I when it comes to its players and staff contracting the virus. We haven't even talked about opening 31 rinks in 31 cities with all the variables applicable to those individual rinks and cities, and yet the NHL is still trying to forge ahead to complete this 2019-20 season with players and staff who have shown they're just as fallible as everyone else when it comes to contracting this virus.

At what point does the NHL and/or the NHLPA just say that it's not worth it? Right now, I'd be leaning heavily in that direction if I were a player. It's simply not worth my long-term health to try and get to a training camp in an area besieged by coronavirus like Maricopa County is.

More than 1500 new cases in Arizona today with 39 new deaths reported. Sometimes, it just doesn't seem worth the risk.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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