Fort Worth, Texas,
11:34 AM

Help Slow the Spread: Health Officials Advise Against Super Bowl Parties

If you plan to host a Super Bowl party, you might want to think again. Health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise against gathering with people outside of your household this year due to COVID-19. Still, many people are planning to do just that.

A recent Seton Hall Sports Poll shows 25% of Americans say they will hold or attend a party for the big game. According to Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of infectious diseases at Cook Children's, it is important to avoid large gatherings, even if you’re vaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is not a green light to get together with people,” Dr. Whitworth said. “If you’ve had the immunization, you can still get an asymptomatic infection and transmit it to others.”

Cook Children’s Medical Center is finally seeing lower numbers of COVID-19 patients after record hospitalizations and positive test numbers in December and January. The percentage of COVID-19 tests administered by Cook Children’s that are coming back positive is under 10%, which is a great improvement.

Dr. Whitworth says more good news is on the horizon. Vaccine rates are going up, and community spread of the disease is declining.

“The more people do their part, the sooner everyone can have large gatherings and celebrate with loved ones,” she said.

COVID-19 can spread from people who are symptomatic or asymptomatic by secretions coming from the nose and mouth. As you exhale, talk, yell, etc., those secretions fall within six feet of you. This is why it’s so important to stay six feet apart from others, wash your hands and wear a mask. When people are yelling at the TV or taking a break to eat or drink, there is always a possibility of spreading COVID-19. Dr. Whitworth reminds everyone, “Cloth, paper or N95 masks keep secretions in so you don't share germs with others around you.”

Although we can’t celebrate like years past, there are alternatives for large indoor gatherings, such as hosting a virtual party or starting a group text thread. These options allow us to enjoy the action with other fans while keeping distance and remaining safe.

As more COVID-19 vaccinations become available, health officials urge everyone to take the same precautions whether fully vaccinated or not. Dr. Whitworth says if everyone gathering is vaccinated, it’s safer, however, the vaccine is only about 95% effective. There’s still a chance someone could get sick.

While some may argue having a gathering in their home is safer than going out in public, Dr. Whitworth says any gathering comes with risks.

“A public place could have an influx of people with no masks and closed doors, and that is a high-risk environment,” she said.

The best way to protect yourself is to celebrate with those you live with.

It is also important to understand COVID-19 testing does not predict the future. If everyone gets tested before a gathering, the risk is lower because you can exclude those who test positive. However, you can test negative one day and transmit the virus the next day. While taking a COVID-19 test could lower the risk, it’s not the best indicator for a gathering.

Dr. Whitworth urges everyone to remain hopeful and to remember that we are getting closer to celebrations like Super Bowl parties, holidays, and birthday celebrations.

“As I've heard one of our scientists say, ‘The months ahead look a lot better than the weeks ahead and vaccine rates are going up everywhere,’” Dr. Whitworth said.

For more information on safer ways to enjoy the Super Bowl, visit the CDC’s website.