That here we go again feeling we get from the Bears apparently isn’t limited to the on-the-field product.
Because, once again, the Bears appear to be in the NFL’s enhanced COVID-19 protocols:
Per source, one of the positives was a case of the Omicron variant in Washington. At least five teams — Falcons, Lions, Vikings, Texans and Bears — are in enhanced protocols, meaning daily testing regardless of vax status, mandatory masking in facility, etc. https://t.co/fQGkV6PLA6
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) December 13, 2021
Chicago first entered the league’s “enhanced protocols” program in late October, after a COVID surge at Halas Hall put the clamps on things before they were able to spiral way out of control. But here we are nearly two months later, and the Bears are rolling things back again. As ESPN reporter Dan Graziano points out there are restrictions that come with this. There is mandatory mask-wearing in the building, daily testing for players and staff regardless of vaccination status, and Zoom press briefings are back.
News of the Bears re-entering the stricter protocols comes as another COVID case hits the team. Mario Edwards Jr. was put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. The announcement came the day after the Bears’ prime-time loss to the Packers. Patrick Finley (Sun-Times) reports the Bears DL is not vaccinated, which means he will miss the team’s upcoming game against the Vikings. Edwards will be in isolation for 10 days, as part of this process. He joins offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson as being active Bears players on the COVID reserve list. For Wilkinson, it is his third trip to COVID protocols this year. Wilkinson has been on the list since Nov. 26, and has yet to return.
Tack on ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting the NFL having 37 total positive COVID tests on Monday brings on another layer of concern. This all feels troubling, as we continue to see news about a rising number of cases, with 50 million cases having been recorded in the United States since this began. Perhaps, with the in mind, the NFL sent an important memo to its 32 teams. The league is requiring Tier 1 and Tier 2 staffers to get the booster shot by Dec. 27, via PFT. And while players are Tier 1 employees, they aren’t required to get the booster under the mandate.
Chicago’s football team is all but out of the NFL playoff picture. But as we head deeper into December, I feel like the eventual Super Bowl champ will be the one who best handles health and safety protocols.