HILLBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Nearly a month after the Tampa Bay Buccanneers won football’s biggest game, public health researchers said the Super Bowl wasn’t a significant contributor to new COVID-19 cases.
In a report specifically studying the Super Bowl’s impact on the pandemic, researchers with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said less than 60 cases were associated with the actual event: 53 were traced within the state and four out-of-state cases.
Its case analysis, dubbed the Super Bowl Surveillance Period, was conducted specifically from Jan. 22 to Feb. 24. Health officials said they zeroed in their focus during January and February of 2021 to gather information related to the large events surrounding the Super Bowl happening in Tampa, according to the report.
After a public all-call to report coronavirus infections following the Super Bowl, contact tracing and analyzing the data, researchers said the Super Bowl was not a superspreader event.
“Of the 260,648 Florida COVID cases reported during this surveillance period, 53 (0.02%) reported any association to the Super Bowl or Super Bowl-related activities,” the report reads.
However, FDOH officials note that there was still an increase in new cases due to the event as the positivity rate in Tampa Bay area was slightly higher sitting at 7.9% than compared to the state’s rate of 7.3%.
Researchers said this means people contracted the virus during private watch parties, in homes, mass celebrations or during unofficial events at bars and restaurants.
FDOH-Hillsborough County said the first case related to the Super Bowl was reported on Feb. 4, when a set-up worker with the NFL Experience contracted the infection. The pre-game event began on Jan. 29.
The FDOH said 21 cases associated with official Super Bowl events likely attended festivities during the surveillance period and another 25 were likely exposed by those who attended events.
The FDOH adds that 28 people who tested positive for COVID-19 reported not participating in any other group activities other than Super Bowl-related activities.
Researchers also noted capacity restrictions, health and safety protocols and the start of the vaccine rollout may have impacted the number of cases connected with the big game.
Though people did contract coronavirus while attending Super Bowl events and there was what public health researchers call a slight rise in positive cases, ultimately, the report said festivities did not have a major impact on the pandemic.