Super Bowl LV was not a COVID-19 super spreader event in Tampa, officials say

SUPER BOWL LV-Chiefs Buccaneers Super Bowl Football
Posted at 2:35 PM, Mar 03, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Super Bowl LV was not a COVID-19 super spreader.

That’s according to officials with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County who tracked daily case counts between January 22 and February 24, only noticing a slight increase in case positivity.

“The Super Bowl was not a super spreader,” said Rob Higgins, CEO of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee.

That was a major goal for the Super Bowl host committee: to make their mark on the economy, without leaving a trail of COVID-19 cases behind.

“We had 53 cases that were identified as any of these events within the state, and four reports to us from out of state,” said Michael Wiese, an epidemiologist for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County health officials worked to identify cases directly associated with Super Bowl LV sanctioned events, which were all held outdoors with mask requirements and health screenings.

“While we didn’t really have a lot that was associated directly with the Super Bowl, we do know that the community kind of celebrated and got together in response to the events, which did show some increase in the transmission,” said Wiese, who also said the increase in county-wide transmission was likely due in part to things like household parties, celebrations at bars and restaurants and family gatherings.

Then, of course, we all saw the groups of maskless fans celebrating after the game, but these things don’t appear to have significantly impacted our overall county transmission rates.

“It’s a combination of time and concentration. And the other thing is, it’s a nice time of the year, people are outdoors, so the boat parade was an outdoor activity. That really dilutes the virus,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Professor at USF.

There was a brief increase where Hillsborough County’s case positivity rate was above the state average. According to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, the statewide percent positivity during this time was 7.3% as compared to Hillsborough County’s 7.9%.

“It was a pretty small bump, couple hundred cases, maybe, at the max,” said Dr. Unnasch.

Now, the case positivity rate in Hillsborough County is back down below the state average.

A brief blip, leading officials to believe the events surrounding the Super Bowl, which brought in a record-setting amount of fans, were mostly positive.

“More than 280,000 fans or working staff safely took part in Super Bowl activities,” Higgins.

To view the full report from the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, click here.

This story was first published by McKenna King at WFTS.