‘It’s scary’ — Bears take precautions after COVID-19 case

‘It’s scary’ — Bears take precautions after COVID-19 case

The Bears changed their practice schedule Monday as a precaution after a practice squad player was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, coach Matt Nagy said. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears changed their practice schedule Monday as a precaution after a practice squad player was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, coach Matt Nagy said.

Two days after practice squad offensive lineman Badara Traore tested positive for the coronavirus, coach Matt Nagy said he’s trying to go “above and beyond” to ensure the Bears don’t become the NFL’s next outbreak epicenter.

By changing Monday’s practice to a walk-through, Nagy was able to leave his entire 15-man practice squad — whose role is to mimic the upcoming opponent in full practices — at home. He expects them to return Wednesday, provided the team doesn’t produce another positive test by then.

No Bears player has tested positive since Traore — whose sample was collected Friday — did.

‘It’s scary,” receiver Allen Robinson said Monday. “All you can kind of do is keep your fingers crossed that this is the last and only person.”

Bears players had the weekend off, but Nagy communicated with them through a team phone app and a during a Zoom meeting on Sunday night. There, he reiterated the words of Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, who encourages players to wear masks and to act selfless, not selfish, when away from the team facility.

After an early morning walk-through Monday, Nagy sent his 53-man roster home, where they conducted team meetings on Zoom.

The Bears don’t practice Tuesday, and there are strict rules about how many players can come to Halas Hall to lift weights. Players continue to be tested daily in a trailer in the Halas Hall parking lot.

They’re scheduled to practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and fly to Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday for a Sunday game against the Panthers.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure that we put this thing away and can move forward to get back on track,” Nagy said. “For everything to be quote- unquote ‘normal’ on Wednesday.”

Real normalcy, though, won’t come at any point this season.

“I think you’ll be waking up, checking your phone every day until this is not a reality,” guard Germain Ifedi said. “And it seems as though being a global pandemic, it doesn’t have a near end.”

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was asked whether he felt comfortable at work.

“I can’t imagine too many people in our country right now are experiencing a level of comfort, and I don’t think that falls outside the realm of professional football,” he said. “So I think that it’s a trying time. I think it’s tough on everybody. I think we would prefer to not have anybody with a positive test. ….

“Would I say I’m comfortable? No. I would say I’m experiencing everything that America is experiencing right now.”

The Bears know a few consecutive days of negative tests won’t ensure they’re in the clear; between Sept. 24 and Thursday, the Titans had 23 positive tests.

“You’ve got to make sure that just because things are going well the last couple of days in regards to results, you want to make sure that that continues to go here for the next several days,” said Nagy, who requires his players to wear masks indoors and his coaches to do so at all times. “To kind of get through … the incubation period.”

Nagy said Traore, a rookie from LSU, “feels bad because he has no idea when it happened.” He said Traore seems to be feeling well, physically.

“That’s the biggest thing, is, just trying to handle the ‘why’ part,” Nagy said. “Why him?”

All the Bears can do now is take precautions to try to ensure the virus “doesn’t get out of control,” Nagy said.

“I feel like for us as a team, as players, we’re taking the proper and necessary precautions to maintain our safety,” Robinson said. “But at the end of the day, this is a very unknown thing when it comes to just how the virus is spreading and things like that.

“All you can do is hope that nobody else is in the crossfire.”

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