Will the Super Bowl be a Super Spreader?

Will the Super Bowl be a Super Spreader?

By Tricia O'Connor

A smart health and safety offense begins with a strong defense.  

At least, that’s how Super Bowl LV organizers are handling the swarms of fans and athletes heading to the big game. On February 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Tampa; the first time a team will play in its home stadium. 

The NFL has already announced it’s capping attendance at 22,000, including 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers. But health experts are concerned the Super Bowl will still turn into a super spreader event because of the thousands of other people piling into Tampa to celebrate the event, not to mention the prolific house parties Super Bowl fans are known for hosting. 

For fans attending the game, however, the NFL has implemented a strong safety defense. Here are some of their plays.  

Know Before You Go

When the season began, the NFL implemented a bunch of COVID-19 safety protocols including asking players, coaches, and staff to undergo routine testing and wear ultra-wideband distance monitoring and contact tracing devices, like what EBI offers with our workplace safety solution. 

The efforts initially paid off. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the NFL administered nearly 300,000 PCR nasal swab tests but identified just 47 new cases from August 9 – September 26. But as the country continued to feel the grip of coronavirus, the league began to suffer. The CDC reports the NFL conducted nearly 330,000 nasal swab tests between September 27 – November 21 with 282 new cases reported. 

More mitigation strategies followed, and one of the results for the Super Bowl is the NFL creating a list of “Know Before You Go” expectations and rules for fans attending the Super Bowl:

  • Physical distancing
  • Face coverings
  • Foot traffic movement
  • Reduced seating
  • Increased hygiene stations

The league is also implementing temperature checks, face masks and gloves, and enhanced cleaning for staff. 

Protecting fans, athletes, and staff can begin before an infected person enters a facility. Although the NFL is asking Super Bowl ticketholders to take a “Fan Health Promise”, a comprehensive health and safety strategy is the best offense to run against a pandemic. The following guidelines are a game-changer for venues that want to best protect their athletes, spectators, staff, and visitors. 

A Strong Defense

While venues that host professional sports have the support and financial backing of powerhouse leagues, local and regional multipurpose facilities have less bandwidth to coordinate similar safety measures. To compound the problem, running venues at a reduced capacity creates a significant economic impact, including lost revenue and jobs, for the municipalities or event-management companies who oversee these venues. 

The path to keeping public health at the forefront of sporting events may be found in technology. Though state guidelines include health and safety protocols, cleaning standards, social distancing measures and more, few protocols discuss the role technology can play in the ability to execute and expand on these guidelines. By using smart solutions to help implement crucial protocols in their reopening strategies, venues can address health and safety concerns to prevent the spread of COVID‐19.

Essential Equipment

A centralized integrated platform that has a range of scanning, tracking, and communication tools can help ensure the safety of everyone within a venue and should include the following components:

Entrance Scanning: One of the first signs of COVID‐19 is fever. Contactless temperature kiosks positioned at venue entrances can help mitigate risks. For example, if the scanned temperature is above 100.4 degrees, a warning light will indicate that access has been denied, but if a temperature is normal, access will be granted. Thermal scanners not only detect body temperature, but ensure everyone entering the venue is complying with mask requirements. This can further reduce the risks and costs associated with having employees manually perform temperature and PPE checks.

Distance Monitoring and Contact Tracing: Devices worn by employees can allow facility managers to monitor social distancing and engage in contact tracing instantaneously if there is a potential outbreak. Fixed devices can also be placed throughout the facility at entrances or corridors utilized by both workers and fans. EBI’s new Distance Monitoring system capitalizes on ultra-wideband technology, which is more precise than GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth, and can be used at both indoor and outdoor workspaces. Employees wear an extremely lightweight sensor (15 grams) to pinpoint their location at all times. The device sends an alert (within 0.1 seconds) when the employee is too close to another person and sends all data to the company’s Command Center, which provides valuable insights into how a facility is operating and identifies areas that might need to be reconfigured in real-time. The technology also allows for instantaneous contact tracing.  

Analytics Dashboard: At any sports venue, there are enormous amounts of foot traffic in and out of the facility. These fluctuations in capacity can be difficult to track, view and monitor without a centralized command center. A dashboard that integrates with thermal scanning and contact-tracing wearables and can communicate results to leadership in real-time can help facility managers track pandemic‐related activity. The dashboard can analyze real‐time location data and issue quick notifications, medical guidance, and instructions. Additionally, a centralized command center helps venue management adhere to regulatory health and safety compliance and ensure state and local traffic density guidance is being followed.

The Right Play

Staying open and staying safe are top priorities for sports venues across the country as leagues continue to operate during this pandemic. 

EBI Workplace Health & Safety is a secure U.S. cloud-based, customizable platform providing modular options for retailers and all organizations to protect their people and their livelihoods. The platform serves as a central data repository and analytics engine for data collected through employee mobile health apps, thermal scanners, and contact tracing systems. These analytics give employers the insights they need to make critical business decisions to keep workplaces open and operational. 

Our complimentary 30-minute COVID-19 Response Review explores any existing protocols you have in place with the goal of protecting your staff and visitors while maximizing your budget. Together, we’ll identify the right mix of solutions that best integrate with your culture and processes. Request your FREE review today!

Oh, and because I’m a New England girl living in Florida: Go Brady! Go Bucs!

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

Learn More About Sterling