The Bears will put center Cody Whitehair on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list Friday after his initial positive coronavirus test was confirmed overnight. The team had no new positive tests and discovered no close contacts for Whitehair, coach Matt Nagy said.
Whitehair tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday but the Bears sent another sample to the NFL’s laboratory overnight looking for confirmation. Whitehair, who is nursing a calf injury, did not practice with the Bears on Wednesday but was in attendance, talking to teammates.
Friday, safety Tashaun Gipson said Whitehair wearing a mask earlier in the week, when he was sick but didn’t know it, probably prevented an outbreak.
“Cody made sure he had on the mask,” Gipson said. “I don’t think he knew he had it, but he’s a pro’s pro.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy said wearing a mask when not on the field is a team rule.
“People are saying you wear it because others might have it, so you want to wear yours,” Nagy said Friday. “I think you wear it like you all have it, like we all have it. If you do that, then you’re not giving it to somebody else. That’s what he did. He didn’t know he had it. He had his mask on, and it helped out other people. And that’s a good thing.”
The Bears sent everyone home from Halas Hall on Thursday morning after Whitehair tested positive, conducting meetings from home. On Thursday night — after Halas Hall was deep-cleaned — the Bears were cleared by the NFL to return to practice Friday.
“To be able to get that news and hear that, that was the best-case scenario,” Nagy said. “It obviously puts you in a much better mood than what some of the other circumstances could’ve been.”
The team will remain under the NFL’s intensive protocol, which requires, among other things, a daily on-site negative test for admission and strict social distancing rules once inside.
Whitehair was the second Bears player to test positive this week. Fellow offensive lineman Jason Spriggs tested positive Tuesday. Right guard Gemain Ifedi was ruled to be a high-risk close contract and entered quarantine, but was put back on the active roster Friday. He’ll start Sunday against the Titans.