Medical Experts Warn Against ‘Superspreader' Super Bowl Parties

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As positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations taper off, medical experts are warning against "superspreader" Super Bowl parties this weekend.

“We’re not near the home stretch. Even though the vaccines are already there, we’re still far from vaccinating enough people for the virus to not be a problem,” said Paul Schalch Lepe, M.D., a local otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist).

Dr. Schalc Lepe said he’s warning San Diegans specifically against indoor gatherings with people outside their household.

“We saw that during the holidays, people bringing in their extended families to celebrate and that led to numerous outbreaks everywhere," he said.

According to data collected by San Diego County, positive COVID-19 cases started to climb in November and didn’t decline until a few weeks after New Year’s Eve.

If people insist on gathering, Dr. Schalc Lepe advises they do it outside, physically distanced and while wearing masks as often as possible. If dining outdoors at a restaurant, he said only people from within the same household should dine at the same table.

Bars and restaurants usually cash in on Super Bowl Sunday, but because of COVID-19 restrictions it might be tough for some who don’t have TVs outside to show the game – like Graze and Not Not Tacos in Little Italy. Partner, Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, said there are only TVs inside his restaurants.

“The TV thing, no one really planned for, but the other problem is if you get a giant TV, you’re going to create a giant crowd and that’s nothing that anybody really wants. I mean, yes, we want the business, but we want to handle it the right way,” said Zien.

Zien said his team is offering deals and discounts this weekend to help safely draw in crowds despite not having a TV outside. He’s also encouraging people to pick up to-go meals from his restaurants and other small businesses across the county.

“If you’re going to go to a place and get a flat bread from us, or a pizza or lasagna from somebody, I like to tell people, get two of them – eat one tonight, or for the Super Bowl, and then freeze one. You’ll be glad you got it in your freezer, it’ll still be delicious. But you’re really helping make a difference for us along the streets, here, and everywhere in San Diego that needs the extra love and support,” said Zien.

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