The Bears thought they had their COVID-19 problems under control but as it turns out they were wrong.
Center Cody Whitehair tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, and then the Bears sent everyone home to work remotely as Halas Hall was closed shortly after they conducted an 8 a.m. news conference via Zoom for media with defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
"This morning we were notified that another Bears player has tested positive for COVID-19," the Bears said, in an issued statement. "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."
Whitehair has aninjured calf and didn't play last week or practice on Wednesday. The Bears already had placed guard Germain Ifedi and backup tackle Jason Spriggs on Reserve/COVID-19 this week but Wednesday coach Matt Nagy said the team thought the COVID-19 situation was under control.
Nagy is expected to talk with the media about the situation later on Thursday.
The fact it's another offensive line positive test is a cause for concern.
In the past they had only minor problems with the virus. The only key contributor who had been on the list before this week was nose tackle John Jenkins, but he had merely been around someone who had the illness and was quickly reinstated.
Players who had the virus were mostly practice squad players like tackle Badara Traore and Artavis Pierce.
Defensive back Michael Joseph, who is on injured reserve and is rehabbing, had been placed on Reserve/COVID-19 recently but he had already been reinstated from the list.
The situation throws into question both their ability to play the Titans. Finding a way to let the Bears have a bye this week would be almost impossible because Tennessee has had its bye already and had a COVID-19 situation of its own earlier. That caused two games to be changed and the Titans were later fined $350,000 for not complying with league COVID rules.
NFL Network's Ian Rapport reported it did not appear there were many close contacts for Whitehair. Contract tracers are used by the teams. The Bears already were operating under league protocol restrictions due to their positive tests this week, and this required them to adhere to stricter guidelines.
Pushing the game back to a Monday or Tuesday would be an option for the Bears because their next game after this is Monday night, Nov. 16 against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. But it would be next to impossible for the Titans, whose next game would be on Thursday night, Nov. 12 at home with the Colts.