WASHINGTON — The nation’s top health officials are sounding the alarm about Super Bowl gatherings as a potential coronavirus superspreader event.
They’re urging people to gather with friends over Zoom, not in crowds or at bars and parties. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs will play Sunday in a partly filled stadium in Tampa, Florida. The city has acquired 150,000 donated masks that officials will be handing out.
The game is happening during a drop in new coronavirus cases — a sign the infection spike from December holiday gatherings may be easing. However, health officials are concerned Super Bowl parties with people outside their household could spread new cases.
“We’ve seen outbreaks already from football parties,” said Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “So, I really do think that we need to watch this and be careful.”
The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases decreased from 180,489 on Jan. 22 to 125,854 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
However, the coronavirus is killing more than 3,000 Americans a day. The nation’s confirmed total death toll is 460,000.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.