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Iyiegbuniwe delivering COVID-19 message


Bears inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe plans on becoming a pediatrician when his football career is over, and his parents are both in the medical field.

His dad is the director of public health at California State University San Marcos, while his mom is a nurse.

With Iyiegbuniwe's background, it's no surprise that he understands the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world. To that end, he is utilizing social media to urge others—especially young people—to take the recommended precautions to help contain the virus.

"It's very important," Iyiegbuniwe said on the Bears All Access radio show Thursday night on WSCR 670 AM.

"I feel like we do have an opportunity and a platform to use social media. It's important to use that to relay that message because people my age can be a little stubborn sometimes and feel like they don't have to listen and they're above what's going on. Personally, I've been doing as much as I can to tell my friends and family to just stay away and try to minimalize contact with people. I think it's important. The news has done a good job and social media has helped relay that message to people."

To help stop the spread of the virus, people are being encouraged to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, stay in their homes when possible and practice social distancing. Recent news reports showing spring-breakers frolicking in droves on Florida beaches prove that not everyone is following those guidelines.

"A lot of people aren't taking it as serious as they should," Iyiegbuniwe said. "My mom has been telling me a lot that I need to do a good job of staying indoors and staying away from people. A lot of people don't think it's as serious as it is and they can still go out, whether it's going out on the weekend or even going out to the gym.

"It's just important to stay away from people right now. That's a big message that's not really getting across yet. But hopefully in the next days and weeks people can realize that this is something that needs to be taken seriously and they should listen to the news and professionals."

Iyiegbuniwe recently posted a thank you message to health-care workers on Advocate Health Care's twitter account.

"I'm just trying to show love to the people who are dealing with this straight on," he said. "It's important that people see that and understand that it's obviously not easy to do that and it's serious."

With Halas Hall and local gyms closed, Iyiegbuniwe and his teammates are forced to work out at home. He's been doing yoga as well as sit-ups, pushups and body squats to maintain his flexibility and strength. Staying in shape is ultra-important given that all or some of the offseason program could be cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

"Anything you can do to get some type of exercise or workout in is important," Iyiegbuniwe said. "We're used to having a period to [ease] back into things. But the way it's looking we might have to jump right into it. I think most guys are doing a good job of just kind of staying on top of their body and working out and doing that stuff at home."

Just like everyone else, Iyiegbuniwe is dealing with a world of uncertainties.

"I've been talking to my teammates and it's pretty much just, 'Let's see what happens,'" Iyiegbuniwe said. "We're all waiting and waiting. The last week or two have just been wild as far as things shutting down. It seems like every day something else shuts down and it gets a little more serious. We're all just kind of waiting to see where we're headed."