NEWS | February 5, 2021

Super Bowl Sunday or Super COVID-19 Spreader? How to watch the big game safely

Health experts urge people not to hold watch parties due to pandemic


UC Davis Health experts are clear: the best way to stay safe this Super Bowl Sunday is to watch it at home with those who live in your household. And they’re worried about an increase in COVID-19 cases if people choose to attend gatherings instead.

UC Davis Health experts urge people not to gather with those outside their household for Super Bowl parties  UC Davis Health experts urge people not to gather with those outside their household for Super Bowl parties

“We may get a bit of a bump in coronavirus cases if people do go to other households and watch the game,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“We know that during the game, people are also going to be eating and drinking, and if they’re doing that, then they’re not going to have a mask on,” Blumberg said. “And if they’re drinking, then their inhibitions are going to go down also, and they may not use the best judgment in terms of social distancing and masking.”

Stay outside if possible

For those who do decide to gather with friends or family anyway, Blumberg said staying outdoors is better than being inside, since 90% of transmission happens indoors. He suggested showing the game on a big screen or projector outside.  

“There’s more space and the virus is diluted because there’s basically an infinite volume of air. So, people can get together outside more safely,” Blumberg said.

Still, gathering outdoors isn’t a get-out-of-COVID-free card, especially if people are in close proximity with other households.

“A lot of times the tables are 6 feet apart, but then people sitting at the same table, they’re generally not 6 feet apart,” Blumberg said. “So, when they do take off their masks, there is that risk of transmission.”

Comprehensive information about the coronavirus.

Snack safety

What about sharing food? A Super Bowl party may not seem complete without finger foods like wings or chips.

“When touching things, especially food, it’s always good to wash your hands,” Blumberg said. “But COVID-19 is not transmitted by food and generally isn’t transmitted by contact, so it’s really the respiratory route that I worry about.”

Blumberg noted that the same precautions we should take everywhere are even more important when around people from other households: stay distanced and wear masks when not eating or drinking.

He also advised setting up several tables, so people aren’t crowded around the food or at a bar.

Blumberg noted that if people do choose to gather indoors, they should open as many windows as possible.

“The more ventilation you have there, the more you can dilute any potential virus and the less risk of transmission,” Blumberg said.

Still, he noted, the best way to avoid COVID-19 is to watch the big game at home with your own household. You can still make tasty Super Bowl snacks and there’s one bonus to avoiding a gathering this year: you can cheer as loudly as you like.