By Jim Holt
Signal Investigative Reporter
The county’s director of public health issued some COVID-19 safety rules intended to keep your Super Bowl from turning into a super spreader event.
“Many of us will be spending several hours eating, drinking cheering and shouting with people from different households,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday during her weekly COVID-19 online press briefing.
“Because these are all conditions that can make it easy to spread COVID-19, we’re asking fans to follow some common-sense recommendations that can reduce the chance that they expose themselves or others to COVID-19.”
Ferrer also shared data reflecting a continued drop in virus hospitalizations and reported cases.
The Department of Public Health reported 6,276 new positive cases and 81 deaths due to COVID-19 in the county on Thursday.
“Our case rate is dropping an average of 3.5% every day and if we can maintain that pace, we can reach moderate transmission in 25 to 30 days,” Ferrer said.
Drop in Hospitalizations
Since the number of daily hospitalizations for COVID-19 dipped below 2,500, the magic day for no more masks outside is Wednesday, Feb. 16, provided the rate remains unchanged.
“With COVID hospitalizations dropping below 2,500 today we anticipate being able to lift the outdoor masking requirements at outdoor mega events and child care and schools later next week, hopefully by Wednesday,” Ferrer said.
In alignment with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, post-surge masking will continue to be required for indoor establishments, including indoor offices and work sites.
Vaccination verification requirements will continue at mega events, she said, both indoors and outdoors, and to enter indoor bars, lounges, wineries, breweries and distilleries until transmission is much slower
“All across the county many have spent time this past week celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of the (Los Angeles) Rams, and that we’re only three days away from the Super Bowl,” Ferrer said. “We welcome NFL fans to beautiful L.A. and we’re excited about the opportunity this year to host the Super Bowl while we’re fully open.”
“We do ask that everyone take care to minimize risks during the pandemic, whether attending the game at SoFi stadium, a pregame event or gathering at someone’s home,” she said.
It still makes sense to get vaccinated or boosted before the game, she said.
Super Bowl, not Super Spreader
Ferrer’s list of super safe Super Bowl recommendations includes:
• Get vaccinated and boosted as soon as eligible and before the game.
• Gather outdoors as opposed to indoors if possible, and if it can be done safely, move the TV outside or plan to serve food and drinks outdoors.
• Smaller gatherings are recommended, as mixing with different households increases the risk of infection.
• If you’re watching the game inside, it is recommended that organizers improve airflow, including using fans or portable air cleaners, opening windows, or running the air conditioning.
Residents should also consider getting a rapid test as close to the game as possible, especially when gathering indoors with people who are unvaccinated and/or are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, she said.
If anyone is ill or has a positive COVID-19 test, they should stay home and not attend the game or gathering, she said. Instead, they can join in virtually, or watch the game at home to keep family and friends safe and healthy.
For those actually going to the event, Ferrer had some other recommendations:
For those actually getting inside SoFi stadium or going to the Super Bowl Experience at the Convention Center, Ferrer reminds them that they need to wear a mask and verify their vaccination status or provide a negative test result prior to entering these events.
“As we welcome NFL fans to beautiful L.A., we remind everyone to be cautious and continue sensible safety protections to help prevent exposure and transmission,” she said. “Over the past two years, we’ve done a good job of taking care of each other and using the tools available to reduce spread of this deadly virus.”
“We can do the same for Super Bowl LVI,” she said. “Whether you are gathering at the stadium, a bar or restaurant, or at someone’s home, let’s rely on each other to stay safe by taking those small steps that make a big difference. Wear a high-quality mask, get tested before gathering, gather outdoors whenever possible, and get boosted or vaccinated this week if eligible.”
Public Health has reported a total of 2,746,866 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Thursday’s positivity rate was 4.7%. There were 2,464 people with COVID-19 hospitalized as of Thursday.
As long as L.A. County remains under 2,500 hospitalizations, the county can expect to launch its post-surge actions on Wednesday.