Critics blast maskless fans, lack of social distancing at Super Bowl

Super Spreader Bowl: Critics blast maskless fans and lack of social distancing as Tampa Bay take on Kansas City in front of 22,000 supporters and 30,000 cardboard cut outs

  • Some 22,000 fans packed into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday night to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs
  • The hashtag #SuperSpreaderBowl started trending on Twitter soon after kickoff
  • Viewers noted that the stands appeared devoid of social distancing
  • Many attendees were seen flouting rules requiring masks throughout the game 
  • CBS Sports noted that the stands may look more full than they actually are, because roughly 30,000 seats were filled with cardboard cutouts 
  • The outlet also emphasized that 7,500 attendees are vaccinated health workers

The hashtag #SuperSpreaderBowl started trending on Twitter as critics called out maskless fans and a perceived lack of social distancing in the stands at Super Bowl 55. 

Some 22,000 fans packed into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday night to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Shortly after kickoff, the game itself wasn’t the only thing grabbing attention on social media. 

Dozens of Twitter users watching from the safety of their living rooms began sounding off about how the stands at the stadium appeared alarmingly full for an event taking place in the middle of a pandemic. 

A bevy of precautions were put in place to have fans attend the game in person safely, including limiting capacity to 30 percent and requiring masks except when eating or drinking. 

CBS Sports noted that the stands may look more full than they actually are, because roughly 30,000 seats were filled with cardboard cutouts. 

The outlet also emphasized that almost a third of the 25,000 real attendees – 7,500 – are vaccinated health care workers invited by the NFL as a thank you for their service during the health crisis. 

But that didn’t stop Twitter speculation that the Super Bowl could turn into one of America’s biggest super-spreader events. 

The hashtag #SuperSpreaderBowl started trending on Twitter on Sunday night as critics called out a perceived lack of social distancing in the stands at Super Bowl 55

Some 22,000 fans packed into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday night to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs

CBS Sports noted that the stands may look more full than they actually are, because roughly 30,000 seats were filled with cardboard cutouts

Several Twitter users joked that coronavirus would take home the night’s biggest victory

Other users sarcastically suggested that the coronavirus magically vanished before the game

Several users joked that coronavirus would take home the most consequential victory of the night.  

‘With a crowd this big, the real winner this #SuperBowl is COVID,’ user Ahmed Ali tweeted. 

‘Congrats on Covid for winning the Super Bowl,’ quipped another commenter, Pauly Casillas. 

Other users sarcastically wrote that the coronavirus magically disappeared before the big game.  

‘Can’t believe Florida found a cure for COVID just in time to pack that stadium for the  #Superbowl Congrats!!!’ a woman named Lupe tweeted. 

‘Thank god covid went away so we could enjoy the super bowl! thank you covid!!’ another critic added. 

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor issued an executive order last month requiring masks to be worn outside in the city’s most popular entertainment and recreation areas during Super Bowl festivities and the days following the event. 

Those in attendance at the game were required to wear face coverings the entire time, unless they were eating or drinking. 

Ushers holding signs enforced the rules that, by now, should be standard operating procedure. 

Nonetheless, violators could be found in every direction.  

Similar scenes unfolded the night before, as thousands of fans attended a tailgating party outside the stadium. 

The maskless attendees appeared unfazed by the fact that Tampa officials had warned of fines of up to $500 for violators of local health guidelines. 

That’s perhaps because it’s unclear whether those rules are enforceable under an order from Governor Ron DeSantis that blocks officials from collecting fines for flouting pandemic-related restrictions.  

A bevy of precautions were put in place to have fans attend the game in person safely, including limiting capacity to 30 percent and requiring masks except when eating or drinking

Many fans were seen flouting the mask rules within the stadium 

The nation’s top health officials sounded the alarm this week about the Super Bowl being a potential superspreader event, and they urged people to gather with friends over Zoom, not in crowds.

‘I’m worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly. People gather, they watch games together. 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 Super Bowl comes as the nation sees a dramatic drop in new virus cases — a sign that the infection spike from holiday gatherings is easing. 

The virus has killed more than 459,000 people in the US, but the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases went from 180,489 as of January 22 to 125,854 as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials fear the game could seed new cases at exactly the wrong time. 

Just this week, the new coronavirus strain that spread quickly in the United Kingdom was confirmed in Kansas after turning up in several other states. 

Other highly contagious variants also have scientists worried. States are in a race to vaccinate before the newcomers become widespread and additional strains emerge.

After a long year of shutdowns, it remains to be seen whether Americans will heed the warnings for an event that was watched by more than 100 million people last year.

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