Will Super Bowl Sunday 2021 cause a Coronavirus Outbreak?


Image Courtesy of WKMG

Grace Mittleman, Staff Writer

This past Sunday, the Tampa Bay Bucaneers beat the Kansas City Cheifs at the 2021 Superbowl.  Of course, the event looked different with those in attendance at the event wearing masks. Players, coaches, and members of each NFL team have been tested for COVID-19 daily throughout the football season, including on games days.  Team personnel for the Chiefs and the Bucaneers were tested twice a day starting January 24th (when the Super Bowl teams were announced).  Players and coaches did all of their Super Bowl interviews through video conferences.

As for Super Bowl fan attendance, the NFL hosted fewer than 25,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium, less than half the capacity of the venue.  Every fan attending the game received a kit that includes personal protective equipment, including a KN95 mask and hand sanitizer.  However, was this enough?”On paper, it looks reassuring,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, speaks of the protocols, “But the reality is sobering.”Of those in attendance, 7,500 were fully vaccinated health-care workers. However, about 14,500 seats sold to fans weren’t required to be inoculated or tested before entering the stadium, which Chin-Hong said is more than half of all attendees.

Even though the event was outside, the people at the event were still in a closed space.  Many Americans are concerned that even though this was an outdoor event, that won’t matter due to the 25,000 Super Bowl goers.  “Any time you have 25,000 potentially inebriated people together shouting, yelling, and screaming in one place in the middle of a pandemic, you are bound to have transmission,” Dr. Chin-Hong said, adding that alcohol increases the likelihood of people not following safety protocols.

This doesn’t just account for the game.  Open bars may have been hosting Super Bowl pregame events, and it’s likely small gatherings took place throughout the country.  There is Social Media evidence of people gathering during and after the event without masks and not socially distancing.

“We’re just starting to get this under control in this country,” Dr. Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, said of COVID-19 in the U.S… Only the COVID-19 statistics will indicate whether Super Bowl Sunday negatively affected the pandemic and if the NFL and its fans could’ve done better.