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Steve Nash has his hands full with the Brooklyn Nets

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Steve Nash is blessed — and also maybe cursed

There’s an element of Greek tragedy to it. The gods (or, in this case, Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks) grant our hero a gift that can make him more powerful than all his rivals. But it comes with a catch that threatens to destroy him.

That’s where Nash, the Canadian basketball legend and NBA coaching rookie, finds himself after the Nets’ blockbuster trade for James Harden. The kraken of a deal (technically two deals), officially completed today, involves four teams, seven players, six draft picks and four pick swaps. The gist is that Harden is moving from Houston to Brooklyn, Caris LeVert from Brooklyn to Indiana, and Victor Oladipo from Indiana to Houston. Brooklyn is giving Houston three first-round picks and the right to swap first-rounders in four other years, and the Rockets grabbed another first-round pick from Cleveland. Whew.

On one hand, Nash is blessed. It’s every coach’s dream to see his front-office go all-in like this on a championship run. In his first season as a head coach at any level, he now commands one of the best triumvirates ever assembled in pro basketball. Harden is one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the sport, the winner of the last three NBA scoring titles and a former MVP. Kevin Durant is a two-time Finals MVP who owns four scoring titles and a regular-season MVP. Kyrie Irving has hit a championship-winning shot and is one of the most dazzling ball-handlers and finishers anyone has ever seen.

But the Nets’ Achilles heel is painfully obvious. All three of their superstars are difficult personalities who have worn out their welcomes with other teams. Harden forced his way out of Houston by demanding a trade and then showing up for the season out of shape and sullen, alienating teammates and fans. Durant, despite great personal and team success in Golden State, never found the fulfilment he sought in joining the Warriors’ dynasty. He clashed with teammates and the media during his final, sour season there.

And then there’s Kyrie. After unhappy endings in Cleveland and Boston, he could be headed for another one in Brooklyn. Irving is currently on an unspecified, indefinite leave from the team — the reasons for which remain mysterious. No one knows when — or even if — he’ll return to the NBA. So, at this point, the Nets’ Big Three exists only in theory. And, oh yeah, there’s still only one ball for everyone to share.

Time isn’t on Brooklyn’s side either. Harden and Durant are both on the wrong side of 30. Kyrie turns 29 in March but seems like one of the NBA’s oldest souls. So there’s tremendous pressure on Nash to win right now.

The Nets recruited the universally beloved Canadian for this job over far more experienced coaches because of his “soft” skills. He has the ability to relate to, empathize with — and command the respect of — modern superstars. Those talents were put to the test with just Durant and Kyrie on the team. With Harden, the degree of difficulty — and the stakes — have been raised.

Depending partly on how Nash plays this, Brooklyn could win the championship this year. Or go down in flames. And no one would be surprised either way.


James Harden, a 3-time scoring champion, adds another prominent figure in the Nets’ locker room. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Quickly…

Another province cancelled its curling playdowns. Saskatchewan joins B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in deciding not to hold tournaments to determine its representatives for this year’s Brier and Scotties. Unlike most of the others, Saskatchewan isn’t simply sending last year’s provincial champions. Instead, it considered recent results and landed on the teams skipped by Sherry Anderson, whose last Scotties appearance was in 2018, and Matt Dunstone, who finished third at last year’s Brier. Both the Brier and the Scotties will be played in a bubble in Calgary this winter, and Curling Canada announced yesterday that it’s expanding the fields to 18 by adding two extra wild-card teams to each event. Read more about Saskatchewan’s decision in this story by CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux.

Another track star broke doping rules. Reigning Olympic 100-metre hurdles champion Brianna McNeal didn’t test positive for a banned substance, but the 29-year-old American has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for “tampering within the results management process.” Read more about the ruling here.

A five-time Olympic swimming medallist was charged for taking part in the U.S. Capitol riot. The FBI caught Klete Keller after a video apparently showed him, wearing a U.S. Olympic team jacket, among those storming the building. He’s charged with knowingly entering a restricted building to impede an official government function, disorderly conduct and obstructing law officers. Keller, 38, competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He won two gold and a silver medal as part of relay teams, plus a pair of individual bronze. Keller was known to be an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump on social media. Read more about Keller and the charges against him here.

And finally…

A Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $ 5.2 million US. That’s a new record for a sports card, shattering the $ 3.94 million paid for a one-of-a-kind Mike Trout rookie only five months ago (yes, cards are a thing again). Unlike most super-expensive cards, this Mantle is not a rookie. But the 1952 Topps is special for a few reasons. As ESPN notes, that was the first year Topps produced an annual set, and the company ended up dumping thousands of them into the Hudson River because of overproduction. Also, this particular Mantle card was graded PSA 9, and only six in that condition are believed to still exist. The record may not last, though. There are three known ’52 Topps Mantle cards graded PSA 10 — also known as “gem mint” condition. Those are valued at more than $ 10 million.

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CBC | Sports News

Ontario modelling predicts ICUs will be full by early February, but a curfew is not on the table

Ontario’s latest COVID-19 modelling will project the province’s intensive care units to be filled beyond capacity by early February and will also show how a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus risks accelerating the spread of infections, sources tell CBC News. 

Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet is to meet Monday evening to decide on further pandemic restrictions, but a senior government official told reporters that the province’s health advisers are not recommending a curfew. 

“We worked all weekend, right until late hours last night,” Ford said Monday as he arrived at his office in the provincial legislature. “We’ll be going to cabinet with recommendations, and we’ll make an announcement tomorrow.”    

Although the projections by Ontario’s scientific advisers were presented to cabinet on Friday, the information is not slated to be made public until Tuesday.

Multiple sources who have seen the modelling tell CBC News it includes: 

  • Forecasts putting the province on track to report a daily average of 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 before the end of January.

  • Survey data indicating that a large proportion of Ontarians are not following basic public health guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Mobility data showing a spike in movement by Ontarians in the days just before Christmas when the government imposed what it described as a provincewide lockdown, beginning Boxing Day. 


Ontario’s new COVID-19 modelling to be released on Tuesday will project the province’s intensive care units to be filled beyond capacity in early February, sources tell CBC News. (CBC)

“The modelling paints a very bleak picture both in terms of daily cases and the impact on hospitals,” a senior government official told CBC News on Sunday. 

“We are in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling, you’ll fall off your chair,” Ford said Friday during a news conference filled with dire warnings of what Ontario faces from COVID-19. 

“We are in a crisis, that’s how I can describe it. It is scary. This is the most serious situation we’ve ever been in, ever, ever, since the beginning of this pandemic.” 

Modelling in line with that of government advisory group: sources

Despite Ford’s statements, the new modelling does not show dramatically different trends from what Ontario’s COVID-19 science table previously warned would happen with the pandemic in January, according to two sources who saw the material. 

The government is also facing criticism for not acting more quickly in response to the trends.

“We’re at a point where the numbers are rising so fast that every day of delay makes a difference,” said Dr. Brooks Fallis, medical director of critical care for the William Osler Health System, which includes hospitals in Toronto and Brampton. 

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement Monday that Ford “keeps doing too little, too late.” 

“He’s been stalling again for days,” she said. “Delayed action against the surge in COVID-19 cases will cost lives.”

Some public health experts have urged Ontario to impose a curfew to prevent people from gathering with others outside their own households, as well as measures to reduce the risks in workplaces that remain open. 

“We don’t have a lot of tools left in the tool box,” the senior government official acknowledged. 

Pace of growth accelerated

On Dec. 21, the Ford government announced what it described as a provincewide lockdown to take effect on Boxing Day. The measures included restricting most shops other than grocery stores and pharmacies to curbside pickup only, and limiting restaurants and bars to takeout and delivery. 


Mobility data that has been presented to cabinet shows a spike in movement by Ontarians in the days just before Christmas, according to sources. The government imposed what it described as a provincewide lockdown, beginning Boxing Day. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The mobility data will raise questions about the government’s decision not to impose tighter restrictions before Christmas, given how the growth in new cases began surging in late December. 

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, the province’s average daily number of new cases grew at a pace of less than two per cent per day.  

But over the past two weeks, the pace has accelerated much more rapidly, increasing by about 3.4 per cent per day. 

If the growth in new cases continues at that rate, Ontario is on track to average more than 6,000 cases per day before the end of January. Ontario reported another 3,338 cases of COVID-19 Monday, as well as 29 more deaths of people with the illness, which pushed the province’s total death toll to more than 5,000.

According to the province, the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals climbed to 1,563 on Monday, which is 80 more admissions than yesterday.


Based on evidence of how a new variant of the coronavirus is currently spreading in Britain, there are projections that Ontario could, by late February, see an even more rapid rise in the growth rate of new COVID-19 cases. (Alberto Pezzali/The Associated Press)

Modelling released in mid-December projected Ontario to have roughly 400 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care by this point in January if cases grew at a rate of three per cent daily. The ICUs hit that mark on Saturday, said a report from Critical Care Services Ontario, a provincial health agency. 

According to sources who saw the new modelling, it projects nearly 800 coronavirus patients in ICU by early February if the daily growth in cases is at three per cent, and nearly 1,000 in intensive care if cases grow by five per cent daily.

Either scenario would pose a risk of Ontario’s hospitals having more ICU patients than they can currently handle. 

Rationing care could be on horizon

“This is truly a dire situation,” infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch of Toronto’s Sinai Health and a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, told CBC News Network on Monday. 

“We are heading down a path where health-care teams will to have to make those very, very challenging choices of rationing care … such as who is going to get the ventilator and who is not going to get the ventilator, who is going to live and who is not going to live.” 

Setting aside the effects of COVID-19, health officials say Ontario typically has a baseline of about 1,200 patients in intensive care at a time just because of everyday health emergencies, from heart attacks and strokes to car accidents or organ failure. 

The province has the capacity for around 2,000 ICU patients in total, limited not just by the number of beds but also the availability of doctors, nurses and other health staff trained in intensive care. 

Ford tweeted Sunday that Ontario’s health-care system “is on the brink of being overwhelmed.” 


The information presented to cabinet about the potential effect of a coronavirus variant first reported in the U.K. is based on research by Queen’s University mathematician Troy Day.

The new variant spreads more easily and faster than the original version of the virus, according to a report from researchers at Imperial College London released on Dec. 31, but it is not believed to be more deadly.

Day’s research shows, based on evidence of how the virus is currently spreading in Britain, that Ontario could, by late February, see the overall number of new daily cases doubling in a stretch of just 10 to 15 days, twice as fast as the recent growth rate. 

“That would be a really horrific situation,” Day said in an interview with CBC News. 

The survey data shows that a “concerning” proportion of people are not following public health guidelines in their personal behaviour, said the government official, adding that the data likely underestimates the actual level of non-compliance. 

Documents summarizing the results, obtained by CBC News on Monday, show that 50 per cent of those surveyed in regions where the risk of COVID-19 is highest admitted to having had at least one visitor inside their home in the preceding four weeks. 

CBC reported in October that the government planned to conduct such surveys of public health behaviours. 

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CBC | Health News

Inside Manitoba’s busiest ICU: The beds are full and COVID-19 patients keep coming

‘What we don’t have is staff’

It’s nine in the morning and hospital beds are as coveted as they have been for months.

As part of the pandemic response, health officials meet virtually every morning to discuss the management of an overflowing hospital.

In a meeting room, charts and graphs are beamed onto a white wall for people on the call, like a scene out of a science-fiction movie.

Some rows are coloured in red, which represents an overcapacity unit.

They can tell the number of suspected COVID-19 positives across the HSC site, broken down by unit.

“Right now on our children’s unit, we have three suspect positives,” Jennifer Cumpsty, acting chief nursing officer for HSC, told a visitor later in the morning.

Jennifer Cumpsty, acting chief nursing officer for HSC, describes the purpose of the hospital command centre where they strategize the movement of patients every morning. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)
Jennifer Cumpsty, acting chief nursing officer for HSC, describes the purpose of the hospital command centre where they strategize the movement of patients every morning. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)

The problem, says Cumpsty, isn’t space in the hospital; they can keep finding rooms to put more beds and more COVID-19 patients.

“What we don’t have is staff,” she said. “That is our limiting factor.”

To address that, teams of specialists led by critical-care nurses have formed to care for patients befallen by the virus.

These teams include staff who would otherwise not work in critical-care units, such as the nurses in the GD-2 unit — an orthopedic surgical ward before the pandemic, said Anna Marie Papiz, the unit’s manager of patient care.

“Staff, if you were to speak to them and ask them, have they had experiences with patients who have passed away … many of them would say very rarely, and now that’s become commonplace here,” she said.

In December alone, 212 Manitobans have died of COVID-19 so far — that’s 40 per cent of the 523 people who’ve lost their lives from their virus.

“The number of patients that we’re sending up to MICU [medical intensive care unit], the number of deaths that we are encountering, is far greater than we’ve experienced as surgical nurses.”

Health-care workers are dealing with long hours and juggling many patients at once in their fight against the contagious coronavirus. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)
Health-care workers are dealing with long hours and juggling many patients at once in their fight against the contagious coronavirus. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)

Papiz said that staff are working through their fears, putting in long hours and overtime. They’re skipping their breaks to tend to the patients entrusted to their care.

Surgical nurse Aaron Turner said his colleagues are brushing up on skills they haven’t practised since university.

“There was a lot of anxiety from staff, pushing ourselves well out of our comfort zone,” he said.

One of his new duties, he said, is connecting dying patients by phone with their loved ones, who are barred from entering the hospital.

“It’s not something we’ve had to do before,” Turner said. “It becomes part of business, I suppose, but you can never get used to that.”

Despite these new duties, health officials put up for interviews exude a confidence that the employees they have in place — reassigned and otherwise — can handle the influx of COVID-positive cases.

Hospital resources were stretched so thin in early November, the province imposed a near-lockdown to try to slow admissions.

But officials do openly question whether the health-care system can handle the numbers they’re seeing much longer.

“They are working overtime,” Cumpsty said of the staff. “They are stretched beyond right now.”

WATCH | ‘Every spare space’ turned into a COVID-19 unit:

That stretching has included a change, from one-to-one nursing care before the pandemic, to a “team-based” staffing approach, where one nurse cares for multiple patients, with support ranging from respiratory therapists to physiotherapists.

Not everybody on the front lines believes the new care model, announced in November, is tenable.

“Patients will almost surely die in this environment,” a group of nurses at HSC’s medical ICU wrote in an email to officials. “Patients are already suffering from neglect.”

The emails surfaced this week, after they were obtained by the Opposition Manitoba NDP.

In another message, staff said they cannot be expected to monitor several isolated patients at once.

They questioned the unimaginable decision that may arise if a nurse is left alone with multiple patients when a colleague goes on break.

“What room should they prioritize to go first if both alarms require their immediate attention for it’s a matter of life and death?” the email asks.

“Please don’t place these tough decisions on their shoulders.”

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CBC | Health News

Countries that lost citizens on Flight PS752 assemble to press Iran for ‘full reparations’

Canada and four other countries whose citizens died when the Iranian military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet are formally joining forces to seek “full reparations” from Tehran, according to a letter sent to the families of the victims on Thursday.

The letter from the coalition of five nations, viewed by Radio Canada International, says that Canada, Afghanistan, Sweden, the U.K. and Ukraine “intend to work together to negotiate with Iran to seek to ensure that they are held accountable and make full reparations for the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, including in the form of compensation for the deaths of your loved ones.”

Fifty-five Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents of Canada were among the 176 people killed when Flight PS752 was shot down by two Iranian missiles shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Jan. 8.

The five countries — members of the so-called PS752 Coordination Group — were to sign a formal memorandum of understanding (MoU) today establishing principles for proceeding with negotiations with Tehran, the letter said. Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s office tells CBC that Canada has signed the MoU.

“All five of the Coordination Group members believe that this form of state-to-state negotiation is the most likely way to ensure that we come to an agreement on how to settle this matter fairly,” the letter said.

“However, if talks are not successful, having previously negotiated with Iran in good faith will allow us to be in a position to pursue the matter further.”

A settlement could protect Iran in court

The letter says that while these state-to-state negotiations do not affect the right of victims’ families to seek compensation “from the relevant airlines pursuant to the applicable international civil aviation treaties,” once a settlement agreement with Iranian authorities is reached, it would prevent the families from going after Iran in international courts.

The coordination group has appointed Ukraine to speak for it during negotiations, officials at Global Affairs Canada said in a media statement.

The group has set up an advisory committee with representatives from each member nation that will be present during the negotiations and will support the work of the spokesperson, the statement said.

The five countries also have discussed the planned downloading of the flight recorders in France, compensation from Ukraine International Airlines and the criminal investigation into the tragedy, the statement added.

“The group continues to advocate for accountability, transparency, justice and compensation for the families and loved ones of the victims,” the statement said.

Families want justice before money, says spokesperson

Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesperson for the association representing the families of the Canadians who died on the flight from Tehran to Kyiv, said the families have made it clear to Champagne that accountability and justice matter far more to them than any monetary compensation could.

“We have said to Mr. Champagne that compensation for us is [a] full and independent investigation and then justice,” Esmaeilion told Radio Canada International. “Compensation stands third.”


Hamed Esmaeilion lost his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and their nine-year-old daughter Reera in the downing of Flight 752. (Supplied)

Iran announced on June 26 that it will send the black boxes from the downed Boeing 737 to France to be deciphered later this month.

In a joint statement, Champagne and Transport Minister Marc Garneau welcomed the announcement.

“We will continue to hold Iran to account and seek accountability, transparency, justice and compensation for the victims of this tragedy, including a thorough, credible and transparent investigation,” said the statement.

After initially denying any responsibility for the crash, Iranian officials were forced to admit that an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps air defence battery mistakenly shot down the airliner minutes after departing Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport amid heightened tensions with U.S. forces in neighbouring Iraq.

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CBC | World News

MLS lifts moratorium, allows full team training

A day after announcing a deal with its players’ association to resume the season with a tournament in Florida, Major League Soccer says teams may resume training.

MLS says each player and staff member must complete two tests for the coronavirus 24 hours apart, 72 hours ahead of the start of training. Every player also must have a test for antibodies and a physical.

Once training starts, players, coaches and some staff must be tested for the virus every other day. An individual who tests positive would be isolated, tested again at least 24 hours later, and all close contacts would be tested. High-risk individuals must be cleared to participate by the team’s chief medical officer in consultation with the MLS medical staff.

Testing for antibodies will take place every three months. Testing providers must be authorized by the FDA or Health Canada.

WATCH | MLS players ratify new agreement, return-to-play plan:

MLS players have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a return to play plan. 1:25

Training rooms and gyms will be restricted to a maximum five people, and lockers should be spaced a minimum 10 feet apart. Doors should be left open.

Food is restricted to individual, prepackaged meals and individually wrapped utensils, and 10 feet of distancing is necessary while eating.

Staff is to use appropriate personal protective equipment.

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CBC | Soccer News

Bundesliga completes 1st full round of games after resuming competition

Bayer Leverkusen cruised past Werder Bremen 4-1 as the Bundesliga completed its first full round of games on Monday after resuming competition.

German soccer has so far avoided major pitfalls in three days of games following a two-month suspension for the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of Leverkusen’s players clustered together after scoring in Werder’s empty stadium, rather than opting for the league’s recommended celebrations of minimal physical contact.

Werder was without one player who was isolating at home after someone in his personal life tested positive for the coronavirus. Werder said on Friday that the player, who the club has not named, tested negative.

The Bundesliga faces its next test this week as players return to live at home ahead of the weekend’s games. Teams spent the seven days leading up to their first games in a group quarantine in hotels, but that was a one off.

Both Leverkusen and Werder kept up their form from before the break, with Leverkusen staying six league games unbeaten and closing in on the Champions League places, while Werder remained stuck in the relegation zone.

WATCH | Bayern Munich tops Union Berlin in empty stadium:

Bayern Munich scores a goal in each half for a 2-0 victory over Union Berlin. Bundesliga action returned Saturday after a 2-month break due to COVID-19. 1:00

Werder was still struggling for fitness after two months without games, defender Theodor Gebre Selassie said in televised comments, as it edged closer to dropping out of the German top division for the first time since 1981.

The first three goals came in the space of five minutes. Kai Havertz headed Leverkusen into the lead in the 28th off a cross from Moussa Diaby, but Werder soon hit back when Theodor Gebre Selassie deflected a corner into the net. Werder’s defence failed to mark Havertz for the first goal and did so again for the second as he headed in at a free kick.

Leverkusen made sure of the win in the second half as Mitchell Weiser headed in from another Diaby cross, again with plenty of space in the Werder defence, and Kerem Demirbay chipped over the goalkeeper.

Leverkusen handed a start to January signing Florian Wirtz at just 17 years, 15 days, making him the club’s youngest Bundesliga player. That broke a record previously belonging to Havertz.

The Bremen city government had been skeptical about hosting soccer games, though it joined other German states in letting them go ahead.

Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte said on Monday on TV channel ARD that it was a “very problematic signal to society” to allow football at a time when other people in Germany were encouraged to follow social distancing.

WATCH | Erling Haaland scores Bundesliga’s 1st goal in months: 

After a 2-month break due to COVID-19, professional soccer resumes in Germany with empty stadiums. 1:11

“We’re allowing major sports events in which it’s part of the routine for 22 people to come into close contact. And not even from two households but from 22 different households,” he said, according to German agency dpa.

Earlier, third-division club Chemnitz said one of its players tested positive for the coronavirus, in the latest obstacle to restarting lower-league games in Germany.

Chemnitz did not name the player. The club said he is “completely symptom-free.” That player and two other players who had contact with him will spend 14 days in isolation at home.

The first and second divisions in Germany returned to play on Saturday but the third-division restart was postponed last week from its planned date of May 26.

Some clubs have still not received clearance from local authorities to play or hold full trainings. Chemnitz said it still planned to resume full training on Tuesday despite having three players in isolation.

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CBC | Soccer News

Vaccine may be the only way sports return to full arenas

He admits being an avid hockey fan, but Dr. Anthony Chow doesn’t plan on attending any Vancouver Canucks games until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.

“I don’t think I would be willing to risk attending a public event involving the masses,” said Chow, professor emeritus in the infectious diseases division at the University of British Columbia.

“I think a vaccine is going to come, I have no doubt about that. How soon is anybody’s guess.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced major professional sports leagues across North America to push the pause button. Billions of dollars are at stake while hockey, baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis and golf all ponder the circumstances that will allow them to play again.

Even with provinces beginning to lift restrictions, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has stressed “mass gatherings are not in any of our near futures,” when asked about the prospects of sports returning.

WATCH | A pandemic has shut down the Stanley Cup before: 

While the hockey world waits to see if Covid-19 will keep the Stanley Cup in its case, Rob Pizzo looks back at the 1919 final that was halted by the Spanish flu. 2:54

But even if the NHL, CFL, NBA or MLS are given the green light, many fans have reservations about returning to arenas until a vaccine for the virus is available.

“I think if we got to the place where they said no social distancing was required [but] before there was a vaccine or before it was proven there was a herd immunity, I would feel very reticent,” said Vancouver resident Rob Anderson, who attends BC Lions games, some Whitecaps matches and the annual Rugby Sevens tournament.

Steve Nairn, a former Vancouver Whitecaps season ticket-holder who still attends some games, agrees.

“I think that would be one of the last things I would choose,” he said. “Even if they had [physical distancing] you’re side by side in the bathroom, you’re in the lineups [with people]. It’s just not a risk I’d be willing to take.”

Don Park, who shares Winnipeg Jets season tickets, said he would attend a live hockey game but would probably wait until January.

“If they decided to play here tomorrow, or next week … I actually wouldn’t go,” said Park, a tennis fans who regularly attends tournaments in Toronto, Montreal and Palm Springs, Calif. “It’s going to be a while until I feel comfortable about going into a big crowd.”

Park’s decision about entering an arena again won’t be swayed by the development of a vaccine.

“I never take vaccines myself,” he said. “I don’t take the flu shot ever. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-vaccine but I’m sort of prone to let my own antibodies look after me.

“I don’t know whether I would take the vaccine myself unless it became very serious … if it was life or death.”

WATCH |  Flames captain Mark Giordano isn’t giving up hope on NHL return:

Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano is eager to get back to playing hockey. 4:42

Demand for tickets

David Legg, a professor of sports management at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said how fans feel now might change over the next few months as restrictions are lessened and people begin mingling again.

“Two months from now it can be a completely different context and scenario where people are not as concerned about the physical distancing to return to a sports event,” he said.

Legg remembers the anger many people vented at players and owners during the NHL labour disputes over the years.

“People swore up and down they would never go back,” he said. “And as soon as the strikes ended, people came back in droves.

“When the NHL opens up, I suspect that we’ll have the same types of demands on ticket sales that you were seeing pre-COVID. Those passions for sports events, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to diminish over the last three or four months.”

Like other businesses, sports franchises will probably have to rethink how they operate.

Selling a reduced number of seats, physical distancing in the stadiums, sensors that detect people’s temperatures, staggering how people are allowed into a building, different methods of food disruption, even more hand-sanitizing stations are all options.

“They’re going to have to do that based on what people are willing to put up with,” said Legg.

“I would guess that most sports franchises right now are polling their season ticket-holders, trying to get an understanding.”

Chow, the former head of the infectious diseases department at Vancouver General Hospital, said physical distancing is one of the keys to defeating COVID-19 and would limit crowd sizes at events.

“Physical distancing is really the only thing that will help prevent transmission and it’s just not possible when you have a large crowd,” he said. “Even if the rules are relaxed and people are allowed to go out, I would think [the maximum number of people allowed together] would be very small, nothing like hundreds or thousands of people.”

For Chow, the safest option remains showing sports events on television that are played in empty arenas.

“Before a vaccine is available, or we know herd immunity has reached a certain point, I’m afraid that’s going to be the way,” he said.

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CBC | Soccer News

Just 9 of Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes got a full inspection last year

People with loved ones in long-term care homes in Ontario might assume those facilities are thoroughly inspected every year to ensure they are in compliance with safety standards and regulations as the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care says they should be. 

The province says on its website that each care home undergoes an annual inspection that includes interviews with residents, family members and staff “as well as direct observations of how care is being delivered.”

But CBC News has learned that last year, only nine out of 626 homes in Ontario actually received so-called resident quality inspections (RQIs).

CBC News reviewed inspection reports from the last five years for all long-term care homes in the province and found that while most received a comprehensive resident quality inspection in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the number dropped to just over half in 2018 and just nine last year.


Natalie Mehra says that RQIs are more rigorous than inspections that are in response to a specific incident. (CBC)

That came as a surprise to Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, which has been lobbying for better regulations around long-term care in Ontario for 25 years.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to hear this,” she said. “We have been fighting for a regular, unannounced inspection each year for all of the homes since the 1990s, and we’ve won it, and then we’ve seen it deregulated, then we won it again.

“And then quietly behind the scenes, it stops happening again, and we have to fight and win it again.”

Not all inspections the same

The inspections in long-term care homes fall primarily into two categories: complaint and critical incident inspections, which are reactive, and RQIs, which are broader and proactive. 

In the case of critical incident inspections, homes usually know in advance that they will come under scrutiny. 

“They prepare the home, and the workers tell us, they staff up, they clean up the home,” said Mehra. 

But RQIs are more comprehensive and unannounced.

“They go into the home, they interview an array of residents … they interview the residents’ council, the family council,” she said.

“They look at a whole bunch of safety standards, all of the standards in long-term care that have been developed to protect residents’ safety and levels of care and so on.”

CBC news has learned Ontario stopped doing surprise, detailed inspections of long-term care homes a year before COVID-19 started tearing through the facilities. 2:16

As outlined in the 2018 Long Term Care Homes Public Inquiry,  RQIs are “proactive inspections” that provide “an objective review of the whole operation of the long-term care home.”

In recent years, such inspections have uncovered evidence of neglect, poor sanitation, abuse and mishandling of medication.

The inquiry highlighted the importance of these inspections and noted that “focusing only on specific complaints or critical incidents could lead to missing systemic issues.” 

The Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care told CBC News in a statement that every home is inspected “at least once a year,” and that the ministry’s “risk-based inspection framework determines how frequent and intense inspections will be.”

The ministry says it completed 2,800 inspections in 2019, but only nine of those were RQIs. The rest were critical incident inspections, complaints inspections and related follow-ups.

COVID-19 death toll rising at nursing homes

That worries Lenore Padro, whose mother, Shoshana Padro, 79, is a resident at Cummer Lodge in Toronto.

“I assumed that they were happening at least once a year,” she said.

“That’s very concerning because, I mean, there’s hundreds of long-term care homes that if they’re not doing regular inspections, how are they able to find out what’s really happening there?

“I think a lot of people would be really surprised to hear that.”


Lenore Padro, 49, holds up a photo of her mother Shoshana Padro, a resident at Cummer Lodge in Toronto. She’s worried after learning that Shoshana’s long-term care home hasn’t received a resident quality inspection in over a year. (CBC)

Cummer Lodge has not reported a COVID-19 outbreak, but 114 long-term care facilities in Ontario have, and across the country, almost half of the more than 975 COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in nursing homes.

The Ontario homes that have had multiple deaths from COVID-19 were not among the few that had resident quality inspections last year.

For example, Pinecrest in Bobcaygeon, where as of Tuesday, 29 residents had died, had its last RQI in June 2018. The same is true for Seven Oaks in Toronto, where 22 people have died of COVID-19.

Eatonville in Toronto, where 27 residents have died, and Anson Place in Hagersville, with 19 deaths, each last had an RQI in 2017. 

Inspections triggered by critical incidents or complaints

In 2017, about 85 per cent of homes in the province received a full inspection. But since then, only 60 per cent of homes have had one.

The ministry told CBC News in a statement it started using a “risk-based inspection framework” in the fall of 2018 and began focusing primarily on critical incidents and high-risk homes. 

“The framework prioritizes homes with complaints, critical incidents, histories of non-compliance and other risk factors and subjects those homes to closer monitoring. The vast majority of Ontario’s homes are considered to be low risk,” the statement said.

Inspections are not expected to ramp up any time soon. The COVID-19 crisis has diverted resources as the pandemic continues to spread in long-term care homes.

The ministry’s inspectors have been “redeployed,” the spokesperson said, to “use their skills and experience to best guide and support the long-term care system through the COVID-19 crisis.”

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