Home Editor's Pick Maskless Super Bowl Partying Defies COVID-19 ‘Superspreader’ Fears

Maskless Super Bowl Partying Defies COVID-19 ‘Superspreader’ Fears

Staunch proponents of lockdown measures and social distancing to combat the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus pandemic lambasted Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans for partying after their team won the historic Super Bowl 55 on Feb. 7. While the celebrations were widely feared to be the next “superspreader,” data following America’s biggest game shows otherwise. 

According to stats from Florida Health’s COVID-19 response webpage, new cases and case positivity rate in the 14 days following the Bowl have remained flat. The daily death count has been in the single digits from Feb. 18, reaching a low of 1 on Feb. 20 and zero on Feb. 21, falling from triple and high double digits before and after the Super Bowl. 

New COVID-19 cases by day. (Source: Florida Health COVID-19 Response)

Police called on Buccaneers fans

CNN correspondent Randi Kaye pushed the measures and masking agenda during the network’s coverage of the game’s afterparty when she boasted about her double mask while simultaneously shaming patrons at Tampa’s Pour House at Grand Central for not abiding by the controversial regulations on how people should live their lives. 

Kaye was served a softball by CNN Newsroom host Fredricka Whitfield to open the segment, “Despite warnings from officials and from the NFL itself, you know, we are seeing pictures emerge of massive crowds partying in Tampa’s club district…Does there remain a lot of concern about crowds who are converging and people not taking all the precautions that have been recommended?” she asked.

Randi Kaye responded, “Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of concern here, Fred, hence my double mask that I’m wearing.”

Super Bowl revelries during the pandemic

She continued “there are a lot of people here,” aghast that “some of them are just hanging out at tables” and that “they’re not all from the same party obviously or are from the same family” before cutting to a clip of hundreds of people celebrating in Ybor City, showing “most of them are not even wearing masks.”

CNN was also upset because partygoers “were on the dance floors in a lot of these clubs and the dance floors right now during the pandemic are supposed to actually be closed.”

Kaye was evidently on the verge of panic, as she openly boasted about calling the police on Tampa’s elated fans, “I gave a call to Tampa Police to ask them what’s going on with all these people that are out and about and not wearing masks because there is a mask mandate in the City of Tampa while this pandemic is underway.”

“You’re supposed to be wearing a mask if you’re anywhere near Raymond James Stadium, if you’re in a bar or a restaurant or anywhere in one of these event or entertainment areas. And you can see from the pictures and the video that we have that people are just not paying much attention to that mask mandate. They are supposed to be fined up to $500.00.”

“So I asked the Tampa Police, how many citations have been issued? What do you want to say in response to this? What’s being done about it?” Kaye said “A lot of people are upset about it,” but it was unclear who, other than herself, she was referring to.

“About 30,000 people a day have been coming in through Tampa International Airport and they are very, very concerned that they are going to see a spike,” added Kaye, noting Florida’s stats were “already about a 10 percent positivity rate here.”

New COVID-19 deaths by date of death. (Source: Florida Health COVID-19 Response)

On Feb. 19, a research paper was published on MedRxiv studying whether NFL and NCAA games where fans attended in person had a statistical relation to the COVID-19 case count. Researchers compared data from regions that had games with in-person attendance with a control group that had games with no fans while maintaining similarities in county size, measures, and pandemic trends when comparing. 

The study found the “effect of in-person attendance at NFL and NCAA games on community COVID-19 spread is not significant” because the results “did not surpass 5 new daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents on average.”

The paper has not yet been peer reviewed. 

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  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.

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