Super Bowl parties could become COVID-19 superspreader events, experts worry

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Despite relaxed rules, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, does not want the Super Bowl to turn into a super spreader event.

While Super Bowl Sunday traditionally brings in business for restaurants and bars, Dr. Fauci encouraged people to "lay low" instead of going to parties.

"It hurts that people are going to stay home. With the restrictions, we will do at least 20% of what we did last year," said Sam Sanchez, Old Crow Smokehouse.

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Old Crow Smokehouse in Wrigleyville had about 800 customers during last year's Super Bowl. The large sports bar generally has big draws, but there will be much smaller crowds this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

With COVID-19 cases declining in recent weeks, doctors said this weekend is an important test in the effort to keep the numbers going down.

"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," Dr. Fauci said.

"Stay at home, have small gatherings only with immediate family, and if you can't avoid being with others, wear a mask," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Elmhurst Health.

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Michael Benson, a Super Bowl fan, said he was tempted to go to a party but ultimately decided in favor of safety.

"After thinking this through, we realized we're pretty close to getting out of this darn thing, so we're going to pass on it. We're just going to have a couple friend over, friends we know well, and at the house, where we can control the environment. We'll miss what we used to do, but not this year," Benson said.

While restaurants are required to follow safety requirements, health officials are concerned about private parties, where those restrictions are not enforced. Officials hope people use good judgement.
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