The Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati could become a mass COVID-19 vaccination site, due to an offer from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to U.S. President Joe Biden.
In Goodell’s letter to Biden on Feb. 5, the football commissioner affirmed a commitment to making all 30 NFL stadiums available for health administrators to distribute vaccines. Upon Biden’s inauguration, the new president committed to a goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days of his administration.
“The NFL and our 32 member clubs are committed to doing our part to ensure that vaccines are as widely accessible in our communities as possible,” Goodell’s letter reads. “To that end, each NFL team will make its stadium available for mass vaccinations of the general public in coordination with local, state and federal health officials.”
“We can expand our efforts to stadiums across the nation more effectively because many of our clubs have offered their facilities previously as COVID testing centers as well as election sites over the past several months.”
PJ Combs, director of media relations for the Cincinnati Bengals, tells CityBeat that the team is exploring using Paul Brown Stadium as a vaccination site.
"NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to President Biden indicating that each team would make its stadium available to be used as a mass vaccination site. The Bengals have had discussions with the Cincinnati Health Department as well as TriHealth about the possibility of using the Paul Brown Stadium as a vaccination site. They are currently working with us to explore how the stadium could be utilized in their vaccination efforts," Combs says in a Feb. 9 emailed statement.
Several teams already are using their stadiums for vaccine distribution, including the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
Biden accepted Goodell’s offer during a CBS News interview that aired before the Feb. 7 Super Bowl. In it, Biden told interviewer Norah O’Donnell, “Absolutely we will [use the stadiums]. I mean, let me put it this way: I’m going to tell my team they’re available, and I believe we’ll use them.”
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Ohio has been slow, hampered with low supply, delivery delays and inappropriate administration. But last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine noted that the Buckeye State is receiving almost 150,000 doses per week — about 50,000 more than previous weeks — and vaccine production is increasing. The state has begun working through phase 1B of its vaccination plan and targets the elderly, people with severe disabilities and adults who work in schools.