TAMPA, Fla. — While excitement builds for the Super Bowl, so does the focus on keeping everyone safe.
While the stage is set, getting to this point was a journey unlike any other in the midst of a pandemic.
“We feel that our club facilities truly were some of the safest possible locations in those communities. The uniform application of our protocols, the efforts of risk mitigation that everyone undertook made them a safer environment,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL chief medical officer.
Sills said they ended up with 262 COVID-19 cases among players, 463 cases among other personnel and staff, with an overall test positivity rate of 0.08 percent from August 1 through the end of January.
The league adopted measures throughout the season. Sills pointed to the evolution of their definition of high-risk close contacts, implementing point of care PCR testing and their intensive mitigation protocol, all outlined in a recent CDC report.
“Unequivocally, yes masks work and they are probably the most important risk mitigation strategy. I think that’s one of the lessons that came out of our paper with the CDC last week,” he said.
In Tampa, leaders are reminding people to wear masks. They’re now required outdoors in Super Bowl event zones and Tampa entertainment districts.
This week, officials put up dozens of signs and planned to hand out 150,000 masks in areas like downtown and the Riverwalk.
“We want everyone to Tampa healthy and we want them to leave healthy. The only people leaving disappointed are the Kansas City fans but it’s also critically important as it impacts our chances to have another Super Bowl,” said Mayor Jane Castor.
“We’re going to take our NFL experience and benefit many others outside the world of sports and across the country and across the world,” said Sills.