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Football from the couch

Safe Viewing Tips for Football Fans

By David Quimby, MD February 04, 2020 Posted in: Coronavirus

Football is a prime social activity, but COVID-19 precautions shouldn’t get tossed aside for big game gatherings. While the college football season is over, the Super Bowl is the cap to the professional football season.

In the past, we’ve all observed scenes of packed bars and restaurants with few masks and no social distancing. With the lifting of Nebraska Directed Health Measures given improvement in the rates of COVID-19 in our area, we need to make sure that we still take personal responsibility to keep each other safe. It is well-established that most transmission of COVID-19 takes place in indoor, close environments, so we can all take measures to help decrease the spread of this disease.

Plenty of us have ongoing pandemic fatigue because we’ve been trying to minimize exposures for almost a year now. As tired as we all area of these messages, gathering in large groups for football as we have in the past is not the way to end a pandemic.

What is the Safest Way to Enjoy Football During COVID-19?

This year, the safest way to enjoy the Super Bowl is at home on your couch with people you live with or those in your bubble.

The next best way is outdoors. It is winter, but maybe the weather will cooperate.  If you do gather outdoors, you should still keep your distance from each other, wear masks as appropriate, and practice good hand hygiene.

Sports bars and restaurants may be open, and with fewer restrictions than in the fall given the lifting of Directed Health Measures. However, this is the least safe way to enjoy football. Food and drink are part of the Super Bowl experience for many, and it is impossible to mask appropriately while eating and drinking.  Being indoors with others in an enclosed space with little ventilation, particularly where there is shouting and loud cheering, has been shown to increase the spread of the coronavirus. If you must go to an establishment to enjoy football, the best idea (weather permitting) is to watch from an outdoor patio area or choosing a location that enforces social distancing and spacing measures.

What if I’ve Already had a Vaccine or COVID-19 infection?

What we know about this virus and infection changes on an almost weekly basis.  Most people who have had COVID-19 infection and recovered are protected against reinfection for a period of at least three months. In addition, those who have received both doses of the vaccines available in the U.S. now have good protection against becoming ill with COVID-19. However, there’s a lot we don’t know. If you have had a vaccine, and you’re exposed to the virus at a bar or restaurant, even if you don’t get sick, can you still bring it home to your family?  At this point, we just don’t know. Similarly, it seems like some new strains that have been identified may be able to partially dodge the immune system, perhaps leading to an increased risk of getting a second infection?  Again, we just don’t know enough about this yet.

Safest Ways to Socially Connect

In the meantime, consider other ways to connect. Gather on Zoom to watch the game together. Or use apps such as Discord, Slack, or even a text group with friends to cheer the big plays and trash talk opponents. Gather outside, weather permitting, and continue wearing masks as appropriate and keeping six feet of distance from others.

As vaccination continues to proceed, the end is in sight for control of the pandemic. Keeping up good behaviors now will only help this along, and allow us all to return to pre-pandemic behaviors sooner.

That’s a winning play.

For more information around the Coronavirus, see our updates online.

David Quimby, MD
David Quimby, MD

David Quimby, MD is an infectious diseases physician at CHI Health.

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