TAMPA — While this year’s Super Bowl is an exciting one for the Bay Area, doctors say there’s a real concern for what next week’s celebrations could do to our communities.
“We have lots of things working against us right now, the Super Bowl being the primary one,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, Professor of Public Health Practice at the University of South Florida.
Experts say the UK COVID-19 strain that’s recently been found in Florida, is a big concern for transmission because it’s considered to be highly contagious.
That’s why experts are warning people to be really careful if they go to any Super Bowl events.
“We may have people bringing COVID here, we may have people taking COVID back, and yes all of these events could lead to a significant spread. With that variant around it’s very concerning,” said Levine.
They’re urging everyone to keep their distance, avoid crowds, and wear face masks more excessively than usual because the main risk is the airborne spread of the virus.
“We still have very significant community transmission of COVID. We have a lot of disease in the community and remember, many people who have COVID are fully asymptomatic, yet they spread it so you have to assume that if you’re out and about you may be spreading it or you may come across somebody who spreads it. That means doing everything in your power to decrease your chance of being a spreader or picking it up,” said Levine.
Health experts say the NFL has done a good job to find ways to keep people inside the stadium safe, but their main concern is what’s going to be happening outside of the stadium.
“It’s going to be very difficult I think given people’s excitement about this and the fact that it is the national pastime for the Tampa area that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are involved. All those things unfortunately lead to the ingredients for these variants to take off and for us to have another surge,” said Levine.
For people who plan to celebrate the big game with family and friends at home, experts suggest doing it outside, limiting the number of people, staying at least 6 feet apart, wearing face masks, and washing hands frequently.
“If you bring people from outside your immediate household members, that increases your risk,” said Levine.
“If you are somebody who is at high risk of complications or death, you may want to sit out these celebrations and protect yourself so you can be around for others in the future,” she added.
Levine says if we can find a way to celebrate without spreading COVID-19, it could make a big impact on how quickly we move past this.