For the first time this year, the Bears closed down Halas Hall and cancelled practice Thursday as they try to weather a growing outbreak of COVID-19.
The reactive move occurs as it was announced that center Cody Whitehair tested positive for the coronavirus. He will be summarily placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, which is both for players that have tested positive and for those that have been in close contact with someone else who has tested positive. This revelation comes after Germain Ifedi (close contact) and Jason Spriggs (tested positive) were both placed on the COVID-19 reserve list earlier this week.
The Bears released a formal statement on the matter this morning:
“This morning we were notified that another Bears player has tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the club has decided to pause all in-person football activities and close Halas Hall. Today’s practice has been canceled and all meetings will be conducted virtually. The player who tested positive and all close contacts have been contacted and have already begun self-isolation. We will continue to work closely with the NFL medical experts and follow the league’s intensive protocol. The health and safety of our team, players and staff are the highest priority.”
In more bad news, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs reports that Whitehair might not be the only addition to the COVID-19 reserve list. At this time, it has not been specified as to whether that means another Bears player has a positive test or if it’s related to close contact.
Whenever the situation does have more clarity, the NFL’s main guidelines for any returns are simple:
- Any active or symptomatic player who tests positive for COVID-19 must have 10 days pass since their first symptoms appear, and at least 72 hours since any symptoms at all have occurred. They then must have their return approved by the team’s lead physician and the NFL’s chief medical officer, which is on a fluid and by case basis.
- For any player who has been in close contact with someone that has COVID-19, they need two negative tests within 24 hours since they reported the incident, followed by eight days of regularly monitored symptom monitoring and testing.
Chicago is scheduled to play the Tennessee Titans, who had their own COVID-19 outbreak earlier this season, this Sunday afternoon. What the Bears’ current developing predicament means for Sunday’s matchup remains ambiguous for the time being.