Super Bowl or pandemic super spreader event? Let’s hope not

Like many Americans (polls say), I’ve watched more Super Bowls for the commercials than the games. This one may be different with youth vs. experience in a quarterback matchup that sportswriters say is the greatest ever.

Such buildups often turn into games that disappoint, but the odds say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs should deliver a high-scoring romp with lots of action. If not, we will have to stick around to watch Queen Latifah stomp the bad guys in a re-imagined “Equalizer” series pilot based on the original with Edward Woodward.

We liked the original series, with Woodward playing a former intelligence operative fed up with saving the world, so he turned to save individuals with problems in New York City. He had to be good, because every time he drove somewhere in his Jaguar, he always found a place to park — in New York City!

The previews show Latifah on a motorcycle. Much more practical.

This year’s’ Super Bowl will not have the Budweiser Clydesdales or even the firehouse dog because the king of beers is sitting out the big game. So is Pepsi, so we won’t see the feel-good commercials in this pandemic Super Bowls. Others say the cost is prohibitive in a pandemic.

Medical experts believe the Super Bowl, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, could give us new spikes in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Reports The New York Times:

Just as the United States seems to have emerged from the worst of a surge in coronavirus cases that ravaged the country for months and peaked after Americans crowded indoors for the winter holidays, public health officials are concerned about another potential superspreader date: Super Bowl Sunday.

January was the country’s deadliest month so far in the pandemic, accounting for 20 percent, or 95,246, of the more than 460,000 coronavirus deaths the United States has recorded in the past 12 months. That’s more people than could fit into even the largest N.F.L. stadium.

Experts worry that football fans gathering on Sunday in Tampa, Fla., for the championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or at watch parties across the country, could set back the nascent progress of recent weeks. The daily reports of new cases and deaths remain high but have fallen somewhat. The seven-day average of new case reports in the U.S. dropped to 125,804 on Friday, the lowest level since Nov. 10. Reports of deaths, a lagging indicator because patients who die from Covid-19 generally do so weeks after being infected, averaged 2,913 a day, the lowest rate since Jan. 7.

Added to that is an increasing worry that the more contagious variants of COVID-19 might dominate new infections in the United States and might not be stopped by the vaccines.

Planning to attend a Super Bowl party? Forget it, says Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser.

“You’re really putting yourself and your family in danger,” Dr. Fauci told MSNBC on Friday. “It’s the perfect setup to have a mini superspreader event in your house, Don’t do that for now.”

While most NFL games this season were played in mostly-empty stadiums, the Super Bowl will have up to 25,000 people in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday. While that’s only a third of the stadium’s capacity, it is still a lot of people.

“Any time you get 25,000 people together yelling and screaming during a pandemic, you’re going to have transmission,” Dr. Carl Bergstrom, a University of Washington biology professor, told the Times.

As we have seen far too often in this pandemic, most don’t care. Chiefs fan Jeremiah Coleman just laughed about the dangers when interviewed in Tampa.

“On my deathbed, this will probably be one of the top five days I remember in my life, you know?”

Let’s hope that is not the inscription they might have to put on his tombstone.