Health Officials Worry Super Bowl Sunday Could Lead To COVID-19 Spread In San Diego
Speaker 1: 00:00 Just as the number of new COVID cases is going down and vaccination rates are going up here comes super bowl. Sunday, San Diego health officials are concerned that pent up energies and an eagerness to return to normal might make this Sunday. Another COVID super spreader event. Public health officer Wilma Wooten is urging. All San Diego means that if they're going to watch stay home and share the day with their household members only, but many restaurants and bars across the region are preparing for an outdoor socially distanced super bowl afternoon. So what are the risks and gathering to watch the game is an outdoor restaurant safer than an indoor party. Should you mask up before you cheer for your team? Joining me is UC San Diego epidemiologist Richard Garfield professor in the Herbert Wertheim school of public health and professor Garfield. Speaker 2: 00:58 Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. Speaker 1: 01:01 Big gatherings result in increased cases. Obviously some of the people who are in the gathering have to be sick, Speaker 2: 01:08 Not necessarily with the coronavirus, uh, a large note, the people who are infected don't have any symptoms at all or symptoms that are so mild, that they don't really recognize them as being sick. And so, uh, people can attend an event and think that they're fine. And the same time spread the virus to other people who will go on to get sick, or they may also be asymptomatic, but they may spread it to somebody who is vulnerable to be having severe illness from coronavirus. Speaker 1: 01:39 And now there's at least one more contagious variant circulating in San Diego. That must increase the risk. Speaker 2: 01:47 Yeah, that's a really good point. I'm glad that you bring that up. Maureen, it's the [inaudible] strain. Some people know it as the United Kingdom strain. This strain has been estimated to be anywhere from 30 to 70% more infectious than the currently circulating strains in the United States. So if you have another strain, that's about 50% on average more infectious. That means that even if it's not more deadly, just the fact that more people become infected it'll increase the, the rates of severe disease and the mortality rates due to COVID. So it is a big concern. Um, it could potentially offset a lot of the progress that we've made in reducing the number of cases in our community. Speaker 1: 02:35 If you were attending an outdoor event, uh, at a restaurant or for super bowl Sunday, I know that you wouldn't be, but if you were, how would you keep yourself safe? Speaker 2: 02:44 If people are attending, um, outdoor events or going to bars or restaurants, uh, which is a great time, and I love doing it myself, then there are things that you can do to try to minimize the risk. So, first of all, just be really aware of your surroundings. The closer people are together, the riskier it is. So clearly when you're in an outdoor setting, you want it to really be outdoor. So if the venue has put up plastic sheeting or a tent, and so basically they created an indoor space outside. That's still an indoor space. So you really want it to be outdoor with good open ventilation. Next, when you get to the venue, arrive and wear your mask, wear your mask as you walk in, um, and keep it on until you get to your table and you can even keep it on until the foods and drinks are delivered at that point. Speaker 2: 03:35 Um, you know, hopefully you're just with the people that you arrived with. Um, so you know who your group of people are, um, and you can take off your mask and then if you need to get up and use the restroom or go to the bar and get another drink, put your mask back on, you know, you might end up standing in a line or being in a crowd, or you might end up bumping into a friend who wants to stop, stop and chat. And if that happens, you'll be much safer if you have a mask on as, as well as that other person, um, you may be wearing a mouse, but if the person that you're talking to isn't mouse, there's still a chance that you could be in hearing some of, of their air and put yourself at risk, Speaker 1: 04:12 No national city distributed what it calls a super bowl safety kit, which included N N 95 face masks, hand, sanitizer, and shields. And that seems to assume that despite public health advice, people will be gathering, gathering even in their homes to see the game. So if friends are coming over to the house, can you make it a safe event? Speaker 2: 04:36 Yeah, there's a lot of things that could be done in a household to keep things safe first and foremost, if there's any chance that you're infected, you know, don't, don't expose others, stay home. There'll be another Superbowl next year for people who are gathering, ideally sit outside, you know, move the TV set outside. If you can't do that, at least open up doors and windows, try to get good air circulation and you can turn on fans. Um, ideally blowing the air out, works from the house so that it circulates new air into the house. And then another thing that I think a lot of people aren't aware of is that you can turn on the fan on the home ventilation system. So rather than setting the thermostat to auto set, set the fan to on so that it's constantly circulating air, even if it's not heating or cooling it. Speaker 2: 05:23 And you can also replace the air filter in your air conditioner, uh, to a higher filtration filter like a Merv 13 number 13, and that will help to filter out any virus that's being circulated in the air. So ventilation is really important. You want people out to be breathing each other's there also wear masks. Um, the N 95 is a very efficient mask, which, um, filters out, um, most of the viral particles that might be in the air, a surgical mask, like we normally see people wearing is, uh, less efficient at, uh, filtering out particles and a homemade face mask. A cloth mask is probably a little less efficient than most, um, surgical masks. And so, um, if you're going to where you want people to wear masks and where they wear them correctly, they should fit tightly. They shouldn't have, um, big pockets that puff out on the side where the air is really just circulating out around them. Speaker 2: 06:20 Um, and, um, and in, in some cases that people are really concerned, they can even double mouse. Um, the other thing that we want to keep in mind is, um, avoiding close contact with each other. So I know everybody is excited to see their friends and their family, but try to avoid the hug. I know it feels awkward, but, um, you know, for at least the next few months, until we get this pandemic under control, the less physical contact we have, the better one last thing is, again, even though there hasn't been documented cases of transmission of COVID from food, there is always that possibility of, of surfaces. And so wash your hands frequently. Speaker 1: 07:06 I've been speaking with UC San Diego epidemiologist, Richard Garfield. I want to thank you so much for all that information. You're very welcome.