CLOSE
NFL: FEB 02 Super Bowl LIV - Chiefs v 49ers

Source: Icon Sportswire / Getty

The NFL is giving 7,500 vaccinated health care workers tickets to the Super Bowl as a way to say thank you for their dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement posted on NFL.com.

“We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings.”

Super Bowl LV will be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., and according to the NFL, most of the health care professionals won’t have to travel very far to see the game. “Most of the workers will come from the Tampa area, though all 32 NFL teams will select “a handful” of health care workers from their areas for an all expenses paid trip to Tampa,” the league noted in a statement.

According to Entertainment Tonight, “Among those in attendance will be Glenda Wright, Michele Moran and Rev. Jenny Sumner Carswell, employees from Tampa General Hospital. ET asked the three ladies what the honorary invite meant to them, and how excited they are to watch the hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It is wonderful to be celebrated at the Super Bowl as heroes for what we’ve done in the last year,” explained Carswell, Chaplain Educator and Coordinator in Spiritual Health. “All of us healthcare workers, we haven’t been living in a bubble. We’ve been coming into work and having to do this for eight, 10, 12 hours, and then going home and holding the rest of it — school shutdowns, the economic hit and the fear of our family members catching COVID-19. It has been a really challenging, tragic year and I’m grateful for this chance to tell our narrative.”

Some of those health care workers who didn’t qualify have worked tirelessly for months in the parking lot outside of the stadium. The nurses who operate the COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James told Bay News 9 in Tampa they didn’t qualify for a single ticket.

“The irony is we’ve been here since June,” registered nurse Rosheda Honorat said. “We’re directly across the stadium, and consideration wasn’t at least thought of for the fact that we’re right there.” Honorat said they’ve tested over 100,000 people for the Coronavirus since March.

Every one of the health care workers invited will have received both COVID vaccine doses. About 22,000 people will attend this year’s Super Bowl in South Florida which includes those special attendees. The stadium can accommodate over 70,000 people, but will remain at a reduced capacity due to the pandemic. The NFL said the CDC, Florida health officials, and area hospitals reviewed plans to have more fans in the stadium and offered feedback.

Enhanced safety measures will be in place including a mask mandate, six feet of social distancing, podded seating and touch-less features for concession stands and restrooms.

The Super Bowl will likely attract the largest crowd for an NFL game this season. The league reported an average of 10,300 people were in attendance for games during the 2020-21 season and postseason. Crowds ranged between 3,500 and 16,000 at four NFL playoff games last weekend, NBC Sports reported.

An emphasis on the State of Florida with COVID-19 concerns throughout the past six months. The sunshine state reported 1.67 million confirmed cases of the virus as of Wednesday, Jan. 27, third most in the nation, along with 25,600 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

This will be the 17th Super Bowl hosted in Florida, and the first in Tampa since 2009.

Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) is scheduled to kick-off at 6:30 p.m. ET from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday, Feb. 7. (TV: CBS/Radio: WFNZ).