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NFL, LA County Go On Public Education Blitz To Block COVID From Super Bowl Festivities

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With less than three weeks to the big game, the NFL and Los Angeles County health officials are embarking on public education blitz to try and block COVID-19 from ruining the Super Bowl.

Hollywood Exteriors And Landmarks - 2022
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 18: General view of a billboard near Hollywood & Vine featuring the Vince Lombardi Trophy, promoting Super Bowl 56 (Super Bowl LVI) to be held at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on January 18, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

The Super Bowl takes place Sunday, Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. And even though a surge of COVID infections across the state is starting to plateau, public health officials are taking extraordinary measures to make sure the virus doesn't stage a comeback.

"Since SoFi Stadium has already hosted 21 home games this year, and welcomed over 1.2 million fans using similar vaccine or test verification systems, the Super Bowl plan can build upon their extensive experience," LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors.

People attending any Super Bowl-associated event – including those taking place at YouTube Theater, Crypto Arena, the Los Angeles Convention Center, and SoFi Stadium – will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within at least 48 hours in compliance with LA City and county safety rules. Ferrer said public health staff will be placed at the entrance of every event to ensure compliance.

"We know we're going to have folks visiting from all over the US and I'm sure some people are going to go home with COVID and some people are going to bring COVID," said Dr. Jerry Abraham, director of vaccine programs for Kedren Health.

In the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday, the county and NFL will offer free rapid COVID-19 testing at the Super Bowl Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Free admission will be offered to those who get vaccinated on-site, and all visitors to the Super Bowl experience will receive a free take-home COVID testing kit. Ferrer estimated more than 60,000 of those kits will be distributed from the fan event, and the NFL will urge fans to use the kits before gathering with friends and family to watch the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl Experience takes place Feb. 5 and 6, and again on Feb. 10 through 12.

"I told my guys nobody's taking a break. The next couple of weeks, we're slammed," said Esaul Martin, a restaurant owner in Inglewood.

The NFL will offer free COVID testing to all fans before they enter SoFi Stadium, and Ferrer says every fan who attends the Super Bowl will be given a KN95 mask. Public health officials will also do extensive outreach to remind attendees to wear their masks at all times during the game, except when actively eating or drinking, she said.

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