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NBA’s Toronto Raptors to start the season in Tampa Bay due to Covid-19

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Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors grabs the rebound during the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference SemiFinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 11, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida.

Andrew D. Bernstein | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors will start their 2020-21 regular season in Florida after the Canadian government said they can’t play games in the country due to Covid-19.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri said the team “worked diligently” on a safety plan to play at the team’s home court, Scotiabank Arena, but the team wasn’t able to convince officials to allow play.

“These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward,” Ujiri said in a statement. “Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida.”

Amalie Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning franchise, will serve as the likely site to host Raptors games.

The news didn’t come as much of a surprise with Covid-19 cases on the rise in the U.S. On Friday morning, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the country will extend its Canada-U.S. border restrictions due to the pandemic.

The national seven-day average of daily new infections in the U.S. is now more than 161,100 cases. While cases are increasing, Florida is one of the few states that remain open for sports events with spectators.

Tampa Bay will also host the National Football League’s Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium. The NFL says it will have 20% capacity for the game and will not accept cash at its events.

The Raptors, who won the NBA Finals in 2019, aren’t the only team that couldn’t secure approval. Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays played its 2020 regular-season in Buffalo. The NHL received approval to play its bubble in Canada, but teams remained in the country without traveling.

“We want to thank all levels of government and their public health officials for their dedication to this process and for looking after the health of Canadians,” Ujiri said. “We commit to continuing our work together, planning for a safe return to play in Toronto. And as an organization, we remain committed to doing all we can to promote and demonstrate public health measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.”

The NBA will start its new campaign on Dec. 22.


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Cramer unveils list of ‘return to normalcy’ stocks on vaccine optimism

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Sportsdigita’s software, used by major sports teams, sees growth during pandemic

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Angelina Lawton

Source: John Wagner

Sportsdigita, an all-in-one cloud-based presentation software company owned by former National Hockey League executive Angelina Lawton, sees opportunity amid the pandemic as sports teams conduct business online instead of in person.

The company, which counts the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Yankees among its clients, is raising $10 million to $25 million in Series A funding. It may use some of the money it rasies to acquire smaller firms that have been hurt financially by Covid-19.

Sportsdigita is a subscription-based software company that’s seen growth since Covid-19 halted in-person meetings. It offers customized presentations and integrates video conferencing and presentation software. It competes with other services, like Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams, both of which are included in an Office subscription.

But Sportsdigita considers itself “PowerPoint on steroids” because its Digideck software offers customized presentations for sports teams’ sales and marketing groups, which use them in pitches with corporate partners. Lawton said the Sportsdigita’s Digideck platform’s professional services, which come with subscriptions, help it stand out against competitors.

“That is a big differentiator between us and our competitors,” Lawton said. “We actually do the heavy lifting with the creative and design services. We’ll do the presentations and hand them over to teams once they are done, versus our competitors that will sell their product and then it will be up to the company or the professional team to put their packages together.” Subscriptions to Sportsdigita range in price from $20,000 to $500,000.

Lawton said the coronavirus pandemic sped up Sportsdigita’s development cycle, too.

“Prior to this, we were relying on getting on airplanes and face-to-face meetings,” Lawton explained, noting the product wasn’t scheduled to launch until 2021 or 2022 but was prioritized due to the pandemic.

Lawton said the Series A funding will better position Sportsdigita to gain market share among other companies that offer sales enablement software. MarketsandMarkets said in 2019 that sales enablement will be a $2.6 billion market by 2024.

Sportsdigita took a $3 million seed round in 2017 led by venture capital company Peak6 Investments. One of its investors is well-known Minnesota sports journalist Sid Hartman, who died on Oct. 18. Lawton said the company has 40 employees and wants to grow to 60 in 2021.

“In a baseball game, we’re in the fourth inning,” Lawton explained, describing Sportsdigita’s future. “These next innings will be critical for our success as far as how we pivot and grow.”


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CDC should warn people the side effects from shots won’t be ‘walk in the park’

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A volunteer is injected with a vaccine as he participates in a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination study at the Research Centers of America, in Hollywood, Florida, September 24, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

Public health officials and drugmakers must be transparent about the side effects people may experience after getting their first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, doctors urged during a meeting Monday with CDC advisors as states prepare to distribute doses as early as next month.

Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association noted that both Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses at varying intervals. As a practicing physician, she said she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of the potentially unpleasant side effects they may experience after the first shot.

“We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Fryhofer said during a virtual meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an outside group of medical experts that advise the CDC. She is also a liaison to the committee. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”

Participants in Moderna and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trials told CNBC in September that they were experiencing high fever, body aches, bad headaches, daylong exhaustion and other symptoms after receiving the shots. While the symptoms were uncomfortable, and at times intense, the participants said they often went away after a day, sometimes sooner, and that it was better than getting Covid-19.

Both companies acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19, such as muscle pain, chills and headache.

One North Carolina woman in the Moderna study who is in her 50s said she didn’t experience a fever but suffered a bad migraine that left her drained for a day and unable to focus. She said she woke up the next day feeling better after taking Excedrin, but added that Moderna may need to tell people to take a day off after a second dose.

“If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up,” she said. “The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure … You will need to take a day off after the second dose.”

During the meeting on Monday, Patsy Stinchfield, a Children’s Minnesota nurse practitioner, said officials and drugmakers could try talking about the side effects in a more positive way. She said they could use language such as “response” instead of “adverse reaction.”

“These are immune responses,” said Stinchfield, a past voting member of the committee. “And so if you feel something after vaccination, you should expect to feel that. When you do, it’s normal to have some arm soreness or fatigue, some body aches and maybe even a fever. It sounds like in some of these trials, maybe even having to stay home from work.”

“You hear some people in the trials that are disappointed that they didn’t have any of those things, feeling they must have gotten a placebo” she added.

The committee meeting comes three days after Pfizer and its partner BioNTech applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their coronavirus vaccine.

The FDA process is expected to take a few weeks, and an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been scheduled for early December. Some Americans could get their first dose of the vaccine in about a month.

ACIP is expected to call an emergency meeting to make specific recommendations on distribution once the FDA authorizes a vaccine.

Federal agencies are already sending vaccination plans around to staff. Five agencies have started telling employees they could receive Pfizer or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in as little as eight weeks, a person with first-hand knowledge of those plans told CNBC on Friday.


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