After Covid deaths surged past 450,000 in the US on Thursday, there are concerns over a potential spike from families getting together to watch this weekend’s Superbowl.
Daily deaths in the Us have remained stubbornly high at more than 3,000 a day, despite falling infections and the arrival of multiple vaccines. There have been more than 40,000 deaths recorded in the past two weeks.
And while infectious disease specialists expect deaths to start dropping soon, there’s also the risk that improving trends in infections and hospitalisations could be offset by people relaxing and coming together — including for this Sunday’s big game between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’m worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told The Associated Press, adding that one reason cases and hospitalisations were not rising as dramatically as they were weeks ago is because the effect of holiday gatherings has faded.
“We’re still in quite a bad place,” she said.
The biggest driver to the U.S. death toll over the past month has been California, which has averaged more than 500 deaths per day in recent weeks.
Public health experts are watching Florida closely this week, where the Super Bowl will be played in Tampa. City leaders and the NFL are trying to ensure social distancing by capping attendance at a third of the stadium’s capacity – 22,000 people.
But there will still be plenty of parties, events at bars and clubs, and other activities that draw people together.
Florida recorded its highest number of daily deaths of the pandemic two weeks ago, with 272 fatalities on 22 January, according to the CDC.
On 2 January, just over a week after the Christmas holiday, the state recorded its highest daily caseload of 30,531. On Wednesday that was down to just under 7,000 new cases, according to CDC figures.