TAMPA, Fla. — Super Bowl LV is finally just days away, but it took a lot to get to this moment.
The NFL like any other league across the country faced an uphill battle mitigating COVID-19.
The league was forced to push back games, quarantine anyone who tested positive, and put in measures to keep everyone safe. The evolving protocols kept the league on track and made this game on Sunday possible.
"The health and safety of everybody involved was going to come before any other concerns competitive or other wise," NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs & Policy, Jeff Miller said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
That meant heavy cleaning of all facilities, using point of care (PCR) testing with 24 hour results, and the ability to contact-trace effectively to determine high risk close contacts.
"After the team outbreak in September, we recognized that simply saying '6 foot of distance and 15 minutes of cumulative contact wasn't adequate,' and we had to account for that," NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said.
All players, coaches, and staff were required wear a band to track possible exposures. It blinks red if someone is too close and monitors how long a person is near you. Dr. Sills said it helped limit the spread of COVID-19 at least three dozen times this season.
"We learned very clearly that all contacts are not created equal. All close contacts are not created equal," Sills said.
Testing found 262 players and 463 coaches and staff that were positive this season. Still, the NFL is ready to host football's biggest game, bringing their protocols to Raymond James Stadium.
Come game day, only essential team personnel will be on the sidelines. A special area built into the stands will seat players from both teams that won't be on the field.
"This is week is again another example of how clubs have remained flexible. That's again following and adhering to best practices, so we look forward to Sunday," NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer, Dawn Aponte said.
Kickoff for Super Bowl LV is set for 6:30 p.m. right here on 10 Tampa Bay.
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