New coronavirus cases are dropping nationwide, but public health experts worry that Super Bowl gatherings could reverse that trend.
The seven-day average of new infections was 120,000 on Saturday, CNN reports, almost half of what it was a month ago. Hospitalization numbers are also falling, with fewer than 100,000 people being hospitalized for covid-19 in the United States for eight consecutive days.
In an MSNBC interview on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attributed the statistical drops to “natural peaking” after holiday-related transmission and “people doubling down on the public health measures” like social distancing and mask-wearing, per CNN. Covid deaths hold steady, however, with daily averages exceeding 3,000 for weeks now.
Health officials are concerned that these small gains could be lost on account of people gathering in large groups indoors, whether at home or at bars, to watch the Super Bowl, which kicks off Sunday night.
“My sense is that it’s a really great year to watch it at home with your family, and not go to Super Bowl parties that you usually would because we’re just starting to get this under control in this country,” Dr. Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, told The New York Times.
There have been at least 26,761,047 covid cases in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic and 460,582 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 13 million Americans had been vaccinated as of Wednesday, USA Today reports, and approximately 1.3 million vaccine doses are being administered per day, says the Times.