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Hard Rock Hosts National Championship Amid Pandemic, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez And "The Queen's Gambit"

Carlos Rafael Rivera is the composer behind the new Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit." He's a Professor at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music.
University of Miami Frost School of Music
Carlos Rafael Rivera is the composer behind the new Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit." He's a Professor at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music.

Thousands of fans will be at Hard Rock Stadium Monday night for the College Football Championship — what safety protocols are in place? Plus Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on vaccine distribution. And the composer behind the hit Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit."

On the Monday, Jan. 11, edition of Sundial:

National Championship Game

The Ohio State Buckeyes and Alabama Crimson Tide play in Monday's College Football National Championship at Hard Rock Stadium. The stadium has been one of the largest COVID-19 testing sites in the region since last March. More recently, it’s become a major vaccination center. However, testing and vaccinations have been put on pause at the stadium because of Monday's game.

In previous years, this football championship would’ve brought tens of thousands of tourists to local businesses. But now, the stadium is welcoming about 13,000 fans as opposed to the more than 65,000 seats it would typically fill.

Jose Sotolongo is the director of sports and entertainment for the Greater Miami Tourism and Convention Bureau. Despite the fact that South Florida is seeing another surge in COVID-19 cases, Sotolongo believes the safety protocols in place will be enough to ensure a safe experience.

Those measures include temperature checks at the gate, sanitizing stations throughout the stadium, maintaining social distance with spaced-out seats and requiring fans to wear masks. There will also be no tailgating allowed.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

Miami-Dade County has been the hardest hit county in the state by COVID-19. The city of Miami is continuing to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus while also distributing vaccines to senior citizens. Mayor Francis Suarez says the city’s number of cases in recent weeks looks about the same as the caseload from the summer, when South Florida was considered the epicenter for the virus nationally — but the hospital situation is significantly different.

“We have about 50 percent less hospitalizations, so that’s allowed us to manage the hospital portion of this pandemic much, much better,” Suarez said.

The mayor says this city’s main limitation is getting vaccines and they then can only administer what they acquire. He says the city’s state of emergency will be lifted as soon as more people get vaccinated — and case numbers drop. Miami is also planning to make Marlins Park a vaccination site, it’s currently being used for COVID-19 testing.

Suarez has been unable to speak directly with Gov. Ron DeSantis about getting more vaccinations delivered. He’s trying to contact the governor again about vaccines and also to address concerns regarding security following the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week.

“Heaven forbid, we may need the state’s intervention and involvement, which I doubt will happen. We want to have a clear line of communication,” Suarez said.

“The Queen’s Gambit” Composer

“The Queen’s Gambit,” is a popular limited-release series on Netflix about the fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon. The story takes place in the 1960s, and focuses on Harmon’s rise through the chess ranks as a young woman battling drug and alcohol dependency as well as sexism and misogyny. Carlos Rafael Rivera is a professor at the University of Miami Frost School of Music and he scored the soundtrack for the hit show.

Even though the acclaimed show is set in the ‘60s, Rivera decided to take a more classical approach to the soundtrack. He started thinking about how he could compose the music after reading the novel and before he even looked at the teleplay.

“The novel actually mentions a lot more classical music. It even sometimes describes the chess games as it was like chamber music,” Rivera said.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.
Amber Amortegui is a senior studying journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Born and raised in Davie, Fla., Amber is a native South Floridian who embraces one of America’s most diverse regions.