LAKE FOREST – This wasn’t the first time the Bears have dealt with a COVID-19 positive test on their roster, but this week challenged them like no other.
Due to a positive test from offensive lineman Jason Spriggs and then another from center Cody Whitehair, the Bears were forced to close team facilities on Thursday afternoon. Players and coaches had to conduct meetings remotely as they waited to see if anything else might have contracted the virus.
The good news is that the Bears were able to return to practice at Halas Hall on Friday, only missing one day as they get ready for the Titans in Nashville on Sunday. They might have one of their offensive lineman to thank for that.
Whitehair was spotted at Wednesday’s workout at Halas Hall with a mask, one day before he had a positive test for the virus. The center has been out of the lineup with a calf injury and was just watching practice, yet despite him being out there, so far there has been no spread of the virus.
Safety Tashaun Gipson was the first to praise Whitehair for that gesture during his news conference on Friday.
“He made sure he had the mask, he made sure he had everything going on to make sure that he protect himself, even though I don’t think he knew he had it but he’s a pro’s pro,” said Gipson of Whitehair. “So when they say ‘Wear your mask’ and do the things that’s necessary to keep the team safe, he’s a guy who will do it and that’s why there wasn’t a complete outbreak because guys like him were able to do the thing necessary.”
Wearing the masks is something that head coach Matt Nagy has talked with his players about repeatedly since the team began this pandemic season in late July with training camp. So far, the team seems to be adhering to the call, with only three positive COVID-19 tests during the regular season.
Certainly Whitehair’s example only drives home the need for precautions, especially with cases spiking in Illinois over the past few weeks.
“People are saying you wear it because others might have it, so you want to wear yours. So I think you wear it like we all have it, so if you do that, you’re not giving it to somebody else,” said Nagy. “So that’s what he did. He didn’t know he had it, he had his mask on, and, like you’re saying, it helped out other people and that’s a good thing.”
Especially during the weirdest week of a bizarre 2020 season around Halas Hall.
See more on the Bears on Chicago Football Weekly with Jarrett Payton and Lauren Magiera on Saturday at 6 PM on WGN-TV.