Dr. Fauci Just Said This Is About to Cause a "Super Spreader Event"

The White House chief COVID adviser said this is the "perfect setup" to spread COVID.

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From Memorial Day weekend to the July 4th holiday to Labor Day weekend and the trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's that closed out the year, nearly every holiday weekend of 2020 resulted in a COVID surge across the U.S. Now, Anthony Fauci, MD, is warning that we have the chance to change that in 2021. But one upcoming event has him worried. And if people don't heed the warnings to not gather with those from outside of their household for the upcoming Super Bowl game, it could be the "perfect setup" for "a mini super spreader event" in homes across America. Read on to see what Fauci had to say, and for more on the spread of the virus, find out Where You're Most Likely to Catch COVID, New Study Says.

Fauci says there is only one safe way to celebrate Super Bowl weekend.

man dressed up excited while watching TV with son throwing popcorn
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In a Feb. 5 interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, Fauci warned Americans to watch the Super Bowl with caution and only with certain people. "I want everybody to enjoy the Super Bowl," he said on The Beat, but "please do it within the family unit, people who are residents within your household."

Fauci admitted that he misses Super Bowl parties too, but they're just too risky right now. "Everybody likes to have, I did too back then, to have a big party with a number of people coming in, friends and others from the neighborhood," he said. "If you don't know what the status of a person is, vis-à-vis whether they're infected or not, you're really putting yourself and your family in danger. So enjoy the Super Bowl, but don't do it with a large crowd of people in your house in a place when it's cold and you don't have good ventilation. It's a perfect setup to have a mini super spreader event in your own house. Don't do that for now. There will be other Super Bowls." And for more activities that are on hold, find out why Dr. Fauci Just Said We'll Never Be Able to Do This Again.

According to the latest numbers, this is how many millions of cases could come from Super Bowl parties.

Football fans gathered to watch game
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John Drake, PhD, a professor at the University of Georgia's Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, recently crunched the numbers to show how likely it is the that Super Bowl will become a super spreader event. In an article for Forbes, Drake used the number of current infections in the country and the number of people who typically watch the game—along with the assumption that gatherings are usually eight or so people—to reach his conclusions. As a result, he concluded that the Super Bowl could result in up to 7 million COVID cases. And for more on where the outbreak is looking the worst, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

The majority of Americans say they don't intend to go to Super Bowl parties this year.

Two men watching the Super Bowl on TV
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On the plus side, Drake notes, a Jan. 27 Seton Hall University sports poll reported that 64 percent of respondents said they don't plan to attend a Super Bowl party with people outside of their household. While that's a large majority, the 25 percent of people who said they will go to a Super Bowl party outside of their home still leaves room for a large amount of spread. "If this many people indeed stay home, we expect from 828,000 to 2.5 million Super Bowl watchers to be exposed. This is a lot less than 7 million. But, it is still a very, very large number as far as the epidemic is concerned," Drake said. And for more regular COVID updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.

There's one way to make your Super Bowl gathering safer.

Person laying on red pillows on green Grass looking on big Screen
Biserka Stojanovic / iStock

The reason why Fauci mentioned the cold is because, as he's said many times before, outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for celebrating the Super Bowl and while the agency, like Fauci, said "the safest way to celebrate events is at home with the people who live with you," there is one lower risk kind of Super Bowl party. "Attend an outdoor viewing party," the CDC advises. "Use a projector screen to broadcast the game. Sit at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with." And for more on the spread of the virus, find out Who Is Most Likely to Give You COVID, New Study Says.

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