Will the Super Bowl lead to another spike in COVID cases? What past holiday gatherings taught us

BOSTON — In the last few months, we’ve seen cases spike after Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Many people consider Super Bowl gatherings like any other holiday, but could those parties lead to a new round of restrictions?

In the last month, the number of positive tests and patients in local hospitals has fallen.

Health experts say decreasing numbers are relative since we were at all-time highs during the holiday surge and just because the numbers are going down from those highs, doesn’t mean we are not still in the thick of things.

“Unfortunately, if we continue to gather Some people might not be here for the next Super Bowl,” said Sabrina Assoumou, infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center.

Even though the Patriots are not in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady is and we know many people like Dedham resident Nicole Tricomi will be watching.

“I’ll be rooting for the Buccaneers, that’s for sure,” Tricomi said.

But how you watch is what has health officials concerned.

“Probably watch it at home with my girlfriend,” said Canton resident Alex Rosero.

When asked if he’d go to a Super Bowl party, Rosero said: “No.”

Assoumou said to watch the game with others virtually.

“We still want to remain socially present, so my recommendation would be to still get together, but do it virtually if possible,” said Assoumou.

If you’re all zoomed out, you can start a group text with other fans to yell “TOUCHDOWN” in all caps or to chat about the halftime performance or laugh at the commercials.

“I hope people watch the game,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “I hope they enjoy it. I hope Tampa Bay wins. But I hope people spend it in as safe a manner as they possibly can. I’m kind of the Grinch. I’m the guy who stole Thanksgiving, the guy who stole Christmas, the guy who stole New Year’s, the guy who steals every holiday you can think of and made everybody throw shoots for candy for Halloween. Actually I made one myself, I thought it was pretty cool.”

We went back over the last year to look at all of these holidays where people might gather and found a consistent trend in the seven-day moving average of COVID cases.

Let’s start with Memorial Day. Massachusetts was at 888.

One week later, 1,076.

The week after Independence Day, we went from 199 to 222.

We also shot up like a bottle rocket after those Halloween parties going from 1,214 to 1,487.

Gathering over that Thanksgiving meal took us from 2,487 to 3,672.

For Christmas, we got another increase, from 4,114 to 4,448 on New Year’s Day and a week after that, a staggering 5,706.

“Wearing face-covering washing your hands, as much physical distance as possible, avoiding crowds avoiding poorly-ventilated places are all important,” said Assoumou. “If we continue to gather and don’t follow those recommendations, we are more likely to maybe see more variants that are going to evolve making it more difficult for us.”

If you don’t host a virtual watch party or watch with the people you live with, the CDC recommends you have a small outdoor viewing party where you can sit 6 feet apart. Maybe even use a projector screen. The CDC says there are ways to make it more fun and get creative.

You can take and send some pics wearing your favorite jersey or decorating your home with team colors for the Bucs or Chiefs. The CDC says you can even make appetizers and share the recipes with your friends and family.

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