The NFL Honored Health Care Workers by Throwing a Superspreader Super Bowl

If you took a look at the pictures coming out of the Super Bowl last night, you’d never know that the U.S. was in the middle of a global pandemic. 

After nearly a year of public health experts stressing the need for social distancing, the National Football League held an in-person Super Bowl game for around 22,000 people, and the host city was poppin’.   

Fans pass by a protest against Covid-19 vaccine outside the Raymond James Stadium ahead of the Super Bowl LV game between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Florida, United States on February 07, 2021.

Fans pass by a protest against Covid-19 vaccine outside the Raymond James Stadium ahead of the Super Bowl LV game between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Florida, United States on February 07, 2021. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, thousands more swarmed the streets to cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, often standing shoulder to shoulder without masks, in videos posted on social media. 

Fans packed the stadium to watch the Bucs and the Chiefs fight it out in Super Bowl LV, in a state that’s continuously been in the news for opposing coronavirus restrictions.

The NFL gave special tribute to health care workers during the game by, among other things, naming one as an honorary captain. The league gave free tickets to about 7,500 Florida health care workers to attend. Another 14,500 sometimes-maskless fans were also in the stadium.

In an attempt to create social distancing within the venue, officials placed cardboard cutouts of celebrities and common folk in between seats, including the rapper YG, the iconic Bernie Sanders mittens photo, and Guy Fieri. Still, about one-third of the stadium was occupied by living, breathing humans—some of whom took to the streets before and after the big game to celebrate. 

Fans sit among cardboard cutouts before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.

Fans sit among cardboard cutouts before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Videos shared on social media captured thousands of football fans parading around the streets of Tampa, cheering on their teams. 

Hours after the game on Sunday, the #SuperSpreaderBowl hashtag started trending on Twitter, with many slamming Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been exceptionally heedless of COVID restrictions throughout the pandemic.  

The big game took place only days after experts warned that more contagious variants of COVID-19 have been detected and were spreading in the U.S. A strain that medical officials say originated in the U.K. was found just last week in Kansas, which sent a team, and lots of fans, to the Super Bowl in Tampa, the AP reported. 

Health officials are also worried about at-home Super Bowl parties, saying they very well may contribute to a country-wide spike of COVID-19 as well. 

“If you have 10 or 20 people you are meeting with, there is a very good likelihood that one or two of those people will have COVID-19,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection control for the University of Kansas Health System, told the AP. “If you are in a small enclosed space, then three or four of those people will get it.”

Health officials are also worried about at-home Super Bowl parties, saying they very well may contribute to a country-wide spike of COVID-19 as well. 

“If you have 10 or 20 people you are meeting with, there is a very good likelihood that one or two of those people will have COVID-19,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection control for the University of Kansas Health System, told the AP. “If you are in a small enclosed space, then three or four of those people will get it.”

This content was originally published here.

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