TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Nurses and other frontline workers who have been working on the front lines testing countless Floridians for coronavirus at Raymond James Stadium did not get an invitation to the Super Bowl, unlike other Tampa Bay-area health care heroes.
“Since June, we’ve done about upwards of 100,000 tests for potential COVID patients,” said Rosheda Honorat, a registered nurse who works at the state-run COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium.
The registered nurses and other frontline workers at the site were excited when they heard the NFL was giving away 7,500 Super Bowl tickets to health care heroes. But that excitement quickly faded when they learned none of the workers at the stadium testing site were getting an invitation.
They say it’s because they’re not vaccinated, and tell 8 On Your Side they feel disappointed.
“Only health care workers are required to be vaccinated, but if you can purchase a ticket then you can come in without the vaccine,” said Katelyn Hiracheta, a registered nurse who also works at the site.
“Imagine having to hear the cannon wall and practice go off, it’s just the irony of it, that we’re so close, yet so far,” Honorat added. “We wanted to see if there were any steps that we could do to advocate for ourselves.”
They have reached out to the NFL and are hoping for some sort of a chance.
“I think I need to send a message that nobody feels entitled out here. We don’t come out here because we expect Super Bowl tickets, but we would be incredibly grateful,” said Hiracheta.
8 On Your Side reached out to the NFL for a response. A spokesperson said the NFL “continues to stress that this program is aimed at promoting the importance of getting the vaccine from a public health perspective, which is the main reason for the vaccine requirement.”
The NFL provided this information about the Vaccinated Health Care Worker Program:
“Following discussions and a review of plans with public health officials, including the CDC, the Florida Department of Health and area health care systems, the NFL will provide approximately 7,500 vaccinated health care workers free Super Bowl tickets and gameday experiences.
The NFL is also using this as an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices — so this is not only the largest recognition of health care workers, but an unprecedented vaccination promotion.
The League Office said it is working with a number of area hospitals and health care facilities to make tickets available to health care workers. A selection of health care workers are coming in from across the country with the help of our clubs.
We are working across hospital systems in the Tampa area that encompasses over 35 hospitals where a majority of the health care workers attending Super Bowl will be coming from.”
The spokesperson tells us the NFL is working with the following health care systems in the Tampa Bay area: Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth, HCA Healthcare, BayCare Health System, Bayfront Health, Moffitt Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and James A. Haley VA Hospital.
The NFL added that all Super Bowl LV attendees will be required to follow the same COVID-19 policies during the game, including wearing masks.