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By Dr. Peter J. Plantes

January 29, 2020

Football fans across the United States are in the final countdown for Super Bowl number 55. We have all been cloistered in our homes avoiding social contact since those super-spreader events of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We just cannot miss the chance to get together with our friends for this once-a-year event. My goodness, we have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing the invincible Kansas City Chiefs. How could we miss the opportunity to experience this together?

Let me be direct about the COVID-19 situation in the United States. We have over 425,000 deaths among 25.5 million reported cases. That is likely a partial count of what has really happened in the last year. Each week, each of us hears of another friend, relative, or neighbor who is now infected and dealing with their micro-community spread of this potentially lethal viral infection. Horrible as it is, occasionally there is that person we know who suddenly had to be admitted to the hospital and never came home. In less than one year, this national enemy to homeland security has killed and chronically injured more citizens than the fighting in World War II did. How can we take protection at home so casually when the SARS-CoV-2 virus can drop into our homes and our respiratory tracts with the precision of a laser-focused, thousand-pound bomb?

Throughout 2020, public events and national holidays have been followed by upswings in COVID-19 prevalence. It started with Memorial Day, then Fourth of July, then Labor Day, and then critical upswings after Thanksgiving multiplied by the Christmas holiday exposures. Here we are in January 2021, and the holiday tsunami of subsequent hospitalizations and death is finally starting to settle down throughout the country. We are desperate for the COVID-19 vaccines, a miracle of science, to get into the arms of the American population. It has been a bit slow out of the gate, but we should be able to get at least a 50% distribution in the next 6 months.

But there is one huge event in our way. The potential Battle of the Bulge of the COVID-19 pandemic war. How are we going to handle the clear and present danger of Super Bowl Sunday?

Have you already invited those 8 or 12 or 20 friends and relatives over to enjoy the game together? Stop and think again! We are just months away from most Americans being able to get the vaccine and this nation being able to feel safe again and rebuild our economy. Cancel the party! Look at the CV19 Lab Testing Dashboard and map out the rise and fall of COVID-19 prevalence in your local community and/or your county. This will reflect the risk environment of COVID-19 that is likely to arrive for your Super Bowl party.

I am a realist, so I know many parties will unfortunately go forward. If you decide to host or attend one, consider taking these safety precautions:

  • Change the party to a virtual video linked event. Your iPad can show all the guests right next to the big screen television.
  • Do the party outside. It’s football, so enjoy the cool or cold air.
  • Make sure everyone wears a mask during the whole event. For added fun, write your prediction of the winner and the final score on your masks. Folks can harass you when you are way off base in the fourth quarter.
  • Keep 6 feet apart.
  • Wash your hands before you touch any food.
  • Arrive safely as possible by doing a COVID-19 rapid test beforehand.

Stay safe and stay healthy this Super Bowl week, and then you can enjoy a super 2021 without COVID-19 in your household.


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