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Concerns growing over COVID-19 and superspreader celebrations following Bucs Super Bowl LV win

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 18:04:48-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of people poured into the streets of Tampa Sunday night to celebrate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ big Super Bowl win. Less than 24 hours later, concern is rising over images and videos of large, sometimes maskless crowds during this ongoing health crisis.

ABC Action News video captured people flooding the streets in downtown Tampa and other areas after the game. During a press conference Monday, Mayor Jane Castor commented on what she saw surrounding the Super Bowl.

“I’m proud to say that the majority of individuals that I saw out and about enjoying the festivities associated with the Super Bowl were complying,” said Castor. “They understood their level of personal responsibility, and they were doing the right thing.”

Asked about the people out celebrating after the Super Bowl, Castor echoed the need for a level of personal responsibility.

“You can supply everyone with a mask, advise them of the science behind it, and expect that they are going to abide by the mask order,” said Castor. “You’re going to find a few that don’t, but the majority that I saw were wearing masks.”

USF Health professor Dr. Jay Wolfson echoed the idea of personal responsibility. He explained the images coming out of the celebrations were much of what we expected to see: people so excited that they’d let their guard down. He reminds us that after a year of talking about COVID-19, people know the rules on mask-wearing and how the disease spreads.

Wolfson says we could see an increase in COVID-19 cases over the next several weeks.

“Any place in the country that would have had the Super Bowl would have had the same experience,” said Wolfson. “There’s only so much that we can do to control the behaviors of the people in the streets, in the parks, in the venues.”

Wolfson also pointed out both Raymond James Stadium and the NFL did it right when it came to safety measures.

Tampa Bay has already been through one championship parade in recent months for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Looking ahead to yet another championship celebration for the Bucs, Wolfson advises people to follow the same safety measures to protect themselves and other people.

“Bring your hand sanitizer with you, wear your masks, socially distance, keep away from people. Enjoy the festivities, but exercise common sense knowing what the relative risks are,” said Wolfson.