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February 04, 2021

Watch the Super Bowl at home this year, health experts advise

Indoor gatherings could prompt another spike in COVID-19 cases just as the pandemic may be hitting a turning point

Health experts are urging football fans to find safe ways to watch the Super Bowl, fearing the usual watch parties could collectively serve as super-spreader events. 

Coronavirus cases have spiked after every major holiday since Memorial Day. Though Super Bowl Sunday is not a holiday, millions of Americans attend house parties or pack bars for the big game. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that hosting or attending Super Bowl parties is simply not a good idea this year. 

"You don't want parties with people that you haven't had much contact with," Fauci said on NBC's "Today" show. "You just don't know if they're infected, so as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it." 

The spread of new, more contagious variants detected in the U.S. makes Super Bowl parties even risker, according to Dr. Anita Skariah, a University of North Carolina internist and pediatrician.

"We are on the precipice of turning this battle around, with the access of vaccines," Skariah told The Seattle Times. "We cannot let our guard down now, especially as we are aware of three known mutation variants. These may even be more virulent in their ability to infect us."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is recommending people only watch Super Bowl LV with members of their own households, or host virtual watch parties. The agency encourages people to decorate their homes, make appetizers or snacks and start text groups with other fans. 

For people who insist upon gathering with others, the CDC recommends parties be held outside with the game broadcast on a projector screen. The guest list should be as limited as possible to ensure people can maintain appropriate physical distance. 

The agency also recommends people follow its recommendations to make small gatherings safer:

• Wear a mask
• Stay at least 6 feet away from people who do not live with you
• Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces
• Wash your hands
• Get your flu and COVID-19 shots

The CDC issued additional guidance for the 22,000 people who will attend the Super Bowl or other large gatherings. Here's what the agency recommends: 

• Call the venue to ensure that they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus
• Follow signage at the venue to allow for social distancing
• Arrive to the venue early to avoid crowding and congested areas
• Avoid using restroom facilities or concession areas at high traffic times, such as half-time or immediately at the end of the event
• Avoid chanting or cheering. Stomp, clap or bring hand-held noisemakers instead
• Wear masks at all times
• Use touchless payment methods at the venue when available
• Limit alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol may make you less likely to follow COVID-19 safety measures
• Minimize the time you spend in the restaurant, bar or concession area. The longer you stay, the more you increase your risk

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