LAKE FOREST – This is one of those weeks that the Bears dreaded from the start of the season yet knew could happen, given that the COVID-19 pandemic was still going on while they’re playing games.
A week ago, it finally did, as offensive lineman Badara Traore tested positive for COVID-19. All contingency plans the team put in place in case of positive test went into effect as Matt Nagy dealt with the positive test for the first time.
Once it was discovered, the Bears’ held a Zoom team meeting to give information and ask questions. Some of the meetings leading up the the team’s game with the Panthers on Sunday were made virtual in order to keep player as distant as they could be.
So far, the measures have prevented a further outbreak on the team, with Traore the only player testing positive for the virus. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo voluntarily went into quarantine after coming in close contact with a person with the virus.
In reflecting on the week, Nagy said that one thing was particularly critical to him was the ability of the team to give information to players while also listening to their questions on the situation.
“What’s important, what I’m finding out – we always talk about over communication, clarity – is making sure that when something like this happens, if there’s a positive test, that we overcommunicate what happened and how it happened, if you even get into that,” said Nagy. “Then what are we going to do that, and then how do we protect everybody from spreading.
“So we did that.”
It was a two-way street when it comes to dealing with the positive test, as coaches made adjustments to keep players safe while they tried to do the right things at and outside of Halas Hall to prevent more virus issues.
“You’ve got to be smart when you’re away from the building and be smart at the building; change practice times to fewer and farther,” said Nagy. “But they’ve handled it really well and that’s what I like about this team.”
For defensive lineman Brent Urban, dealing with this week is something he was prepared for thanks to the word delivered by Nagy during training camp.
“Coach Nagy’s hammered home kinda hammered home for us to ‘expect the unexpected,'” said Urban. “This is uncharted territory and we just have to adapt, period.”
So far, they have done so well enough to play Sunday in Charlotte.