It might be tempting to gather with extended family and friends to watch the Super Bowl, but with COVID-19 still looming over the entire country, all health experts stress this is not the year to attend or host a party for the big game.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warned about gathering with people outside of your immediate household, telling the "Today" show, "You don't want parties with people that you haven't had much contact with. 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."
"I know that no one wants to be the guy that got hospitalized or died because of the Super Bowl,” infectious diseases physician Dr. Joshua Barocas told the New York Times. “With the highly transmissible variants around and a largely unvaccinated public, we are all at high risk.”
So how can you enjoy the game safely?
The least risky way to enjoy the Super Bowl is to watch the game with members of your immediate household. You can still enjoy the game with friends and extended family members virtually (Zoom, Facetime, group text threads, Google Hangouts).
Watching the game outdoors with people not in your household is safer than watching indoors, but still poses a risk. When people shout, yell, and cheer, the transmission of COVID is possible. If you are gathering with others outside, is it recommended that you wear a mask (we suggest double masking!) and maintain your distance. To cut down on interactions and risk, bringing your own food and drinks is also advised.
Watching the game indoors with people from outside of your immediate household will put you and others at risk. All the health experts who spoke to the New York Times and the CDC strongly advise against this. Small gatherings -- even if there are just a handful of people present -- can lead to infections. In fact, in December, New York found that 70 percent of all new COVID cases were the result of household transmission and small gatherings. If you choose to ignore this important health guidance, NYT health experts note a mask should be worn the entire time, you should not eat near others and you should eat outside (preferably food you have brought) if possible, the number of attendees should be as small as possible, and windows in the home should be opened.
It is also important to remember, even if you have tested negative for COVID this is not a guarantee there is still no risk. The NYT points out, "The virus may not have been detectable on the day of the test or the result could be a false negative" and it is possible to spread the virus to others even when you do not feel any symptoms.