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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Coronavirus Worries, Warnings Cast Cloud Over Parts of Tampa's Super Bowl

Mural painted on side of football stadium wall
Dayline Miller/WUSF Public Media
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Raymond James Stadium is hosting Super Bowl LV

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs delayed their arrival for the Super Bowl by days, waiting instead to fly in on Saturday.

The nation's top health officials continue to sound the alarm about Super Bowl gatherings as a potential coronavirus superspreader event.

They're urging people to gather with friends over Zoom, not in crowds or at bars and parties. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs will play Sunday in a partly filled stadium in Tampa, and the city has acquired 150,000 donated masks that officials will be handing out.

The game is happening during a drop in new coronavirus cases — a sign the infection spike from December holiday gatherings may be easing. However, health officials are concerned Super Bowl parties with people outside their household could spread new cases.

"We've seen outbreaks already from football parties," said Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "So, I really do think that we need to watch this and be careful."

The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases decreased from 180,489 on Jan. 22 to 125,854 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. However, the coronavirus is killing more than 3,000 Americans a day. The nation's confirmed total death toll is 460,000.

Also, the NFL is telling the federal government it will make the remaining of the league's 30 stadiums available for COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Kansas City Players, Coaches Postpones Super Bowl Arrival

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs touched down at the Super Bowl Saturday afternoon. The AFC champions arrived in Tampa a day before they defend their title against the hometown Buccaneers.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL had teams delay traveling into the host city until Friday at the earliest as a safety and health precaution measure. The Chiefs instead chose to come on Saturday, repeating their itinerary from earlier in the season when they beat Tom Brady and the Bucs 27-24 on Nov. 29.

NFL Stadiums To Become Vaccination Sites

The NFL is telling the federal government it will make the remaining of the league’s 30 stadiums available as COVID-19 vaccination sites.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the offer to President Joe Biden in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

There are already seven NFL stadiums serving as vaccine sites in Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Houston, Miami and New England. Goodell says stadiums can be prepared quickly because they were used as virus testing centers and election sites.

Goodell says the offer on vaccination sites was made in conjunction with the NFL inviting 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to attend the Super Bowl for free Sunday when Tampa Bay hosts Kansas City.

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