WASHINGTON — The nation's top infectious disease expert doesn't want the Super Bowl to turn into a super spreader.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, says when it comes to Super Bowl parties during the pandemic, people should “just lay low and cool it.”
He said during TV interviews Wednesday that now isn’t the time to invite people over for watch parties because of the possibility that they’re infected with the coronavirus and could sicken others.
Big events like Sunday’s game in Tampa, Florida, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are always a cause for concern over the potential for virus spread, Fauci said.
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“You don't want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” he told 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.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky doubled down on that sentiment during Wednesday's White House COVID-19 briefing.
"And this Sunday, remember, whichever team you're rooting for and whichever commercial is your favorite, please watch the Super Bowl safely, gathering only virtually or with the people you live with," Walensky said.
The CDC recently published guidelines for how to safely enjoy the Super Bowl amid the pandemic
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a news release that attendance at the Feb. 7 game would be limited to 7,500 health care workers vaccinated for the coronavirus and about 14,500 other fans. Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a capacity of just under 66,000, according to its website.
Most of the health care workers who will get free game tickets will come from the Tampa Bay area and central Florida, Goodell said. But he added that all 32 NFL teams will choose some workers from their cities to attend the game.
“These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” Goodell said. “We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes.”
As with NFL games throughout the season, the Super Bowl will include mandatory wearing of masks, social distancing, touchless concession stands and controlled entry and exits. The NFL had about 1.2 million fans attend 116 games during the regular season and playoffs, Goodell said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has nearly 26 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. had more than 446,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 103 million confirmed cases with more than 2.2 million deaths.