Don’t Make Game Day ‘Superspreader Sunday’

February 5, 2021 – Although Super Bowl Sunday is not a national holiday, it is often treated as a holiday – a celebration of a day full of friends, family and food. But this year will be different. At least that’s what the doctors are hoping for.

Medical professionals are imploring the public to stay physically at bay and keep gatherings virtual this Sunday. Otherwise, there could be new spikes in COVID-19 cases – a particularly alarming prospect given the new strains that have emerged.

“We are worried that there are new variants of COVID, so there is even less room for error,” says Preeti Malani, MD, director of health and professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases of the University of Michigan. “We don’t want Super Bowl Sunday to become ‘Superspreader Sunday’.”

So far there have been concerns about three specific variants – originating in the UK, South Africa and Brazil – which have all been detected in the US. They appear to be more contagious than the original strain and it is not known to what extent the available vaccines protect them.

“This Sunday, remember which team you are rooted for and which publicity you prefer, please watch the Super Bowl in safety, only coming together virtually or with the people you live with,” said Wednesday CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD. a press conference from the White House COVID-19 response team.

Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to the White House COVID-19 response team, has issued warnings similar to those he offered during the holiday season. In an interview with NBC Today On Wednesday, he said “there is always a spike” in new infections following traditionally social times.

“Enjoy the game, watch it on TV, but do it with the immediate members of your family, the people of your household,” he said.

Fortunately, surveys show that many people can heed these warnings. The National Retail Federation reports that only 28% of people say they will throw or attend a party or watch the game at a bar – the lowest in survey history. In 2018, survey results showed 18% said they would host a Super Bowl night and 28% said they would attend. Five percent said they would go to a bar or restaurant.

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Jothi Venkat

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