TAMPA, Fla. — Super Bowl LV was like no other in the history of the NFL.
About 25,000 fans were allowed to attend the game with 7,500 of those being vaccinated healthcare workers. Another 30,000 cardboard cutouts filled empty seats to create space and meet social distancing mandates.
At least 18 of those healthcare workers were from The University of Kansas Health System. The NFL extended the invitation to the health care system last month. Sunday, they joined thousands of other Chiefs fans inside Raymond James Stadium.
The millions of healthcare workers who’ve been on the frontlines fighting COVID-19 for the past year were honored and celebrated during pregame ceremonies.
The president and first lady also made a video appearance to thank frontline workers. President Joe Biden also sent a reminder that we aren’t through the pandemic yet.
“Let’s remember, we all can do out part to save lives,” Biden said. “Wear masks. Stay socially distanced. Get tested.”
Presidential Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman recited an original poem about three frontline workers who the NFL named as honorary captains for Super Bowl LV. The NFL said the three were chosen for their commitment and dedication. The honorary captains were introduced on the field and took part in the coin toss ceremony.
Trimaine Davis is an educator from Los Angeles. The NFL said he was selected because he worked to make sure his students and members of their households had hotspots, laptops, and tablets. He also hosted workshops to teach people how to use the devices.
James Martin is a Marine Corps Veteran from Pittsburgh. He has worked to support veterans, high school athletes and children during the pandemic. He also helped 1,800 fellow veterans and their families connect virtually through the Wounded Warrior Project.
Suzie Dorner is a Nurse Manager from Tampa, Fla. Dorner is currently the COVID-19 ICU Nurse Manager at Tampa General Hospital. She has worked endless hours, even after losing two grandparents to the pandemic. The crowd cheered when her name was announced.
Some of those 7,500 frontline healthcare workers made their own statements, holding signs, wearing masks with messages, and t-shirts reminding football fans what health experts say need to happen to end the pandemic.