Will the Super Bowl become a super-spreader event?

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With just two days to go until the big game, there are concerns that the Super Bowl could turn into a super-spreader event — both at home and in the stadium. The NFL has implemented a slew of precautions to stop the virus from spreading, and public health experts are urging Americans to stay away from Super Bowl parties.  

NFL executive Peter O’Reilly said there are multiple measures in place to protect fans watching the game in-person. Fans won’t have anyone sitting directly in front of them or behind them, and wipes and hand sanitizer will be provided, he said. It will also be the first-ever cashless Super Bowl. 

When asked if he fears the event will be a super-spreader, O’Reilly said the NFL is “very confident” in its protocols. 

“We’ve learned from more than 115 games this season where we’ve hosted fans,” he said, adding, “There’s been no cluster spread coming out of any of those games.” 

The mayor of Tampa, Florida, which is hosting the game, expressed similar confidence. 

“We can handle it,” Mayor Jane Castor told CBS News. But she stressed it’s imperative that residents wear masks and take personal responsibility for their safety.

For Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, one of the main concerns is the Super Bowl parties that will likely be held across the nation. 

“I think it’s really important that we don’t have these large indoor gatherings,” he said, nothing that “the virus spreads much more efficiently when people speak loudly, and that can, unfortunately, make things worse.”  

In an effort to get back to normal, the White House on Friday announced a major ramp up in supplies. One thousand active-duty military personnel will be deployed as early as next week to help FEMA administer vaccines. The Defense Production Act will also be used to manufacture 61 million at-home test kits by the end of the summer, and more than a billion surgical gloves per month by year’s end. There will also be additional resources devoted to making more of the Pfizer vaccine.  

The NFL also said Friday that it will offer all 32 of its stadiums as vaccination sites. 

There is at least one additional thing to look forward to: the Puppy Bowl, which will kick off with a public service announcement featuring the first dogs. 

“Please keep wearing your mask,” first lady Jill Biden says in the announcement. 

And while NFL and public health officials are trying to combat the threat of COVID-19, the U.S. military is also working to protect the big game. Jet fighters will be patrolling a 30-mile no-fly zone around the Tampa stadium. 

Lieutenant Colonel Alex Edwards told CBS News’ David Martin that if a plane approaches the restricted area, air traffic control will make multiple attempts to contact the pilot and tell them to change course. But if that fails, he said, “you can expect to see a few fighters off your wing trying to convince you that you need to change your direction.” 

Two F-15s popping up in front of you is an unmistakable sign that you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. And yes, they will shoot you down if they have to. 

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