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Mike Ehrmann/Getty An aerial view of Raymond James Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LV
With multiple faster-spreading strains of COVID-19 now circulating in the U.S. while the country continues to struggle to contain the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control are urging Americans to skip the usual parties on Super Bowl Sunday.
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs, the U.S. is still seeing an average of 140,000 new COVID-19 cases a day and around 3,000 deaths, and three highly contagious strains first identified in the U.K., Brazil and South Africa have now been found in the country.
Instead of inviting people over for seven-layer dip and wings, Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is asking people to "just lay low and cool it" to avoid further spread.
"You don't want parties with people that you haven't had much contact with," he said on Today. "You just don't know if they're infected, so, as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it."
The CDC also released ideas for "safer ways to enjoy the Super Bowl." Ideally, they said, all parties would be virtual events, with people decorating with their favorite team colors and making appetizers or snacks for just the people in your household. To involve friends, the CDC suggests sharing recipes and starting text groups to "chat about the game while watching."
For those that want to gather with other people, the CDC recommends moving the party outdoors, so people can sit six feet apart, and using a projector screen to show the game.
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And though the CDC considers attending games in-person to be high-risk, there will be fans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday. Only a small number of tickets were available — there will be 22,000 fans, about 33% of the stadium's capacity, and 7,500 of them will be vaccinated health care workers — but the CDC said that "attending large gatherings like the Super Bowl increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19."
The federal health agency recommended that Super Bowl attendees wear masks at all times, follow social distancing rules and avoid bathrooms and food stands at high-traffic times. They also suggest swapping chanting or cheering, which can spread respiratory droplets, for stomping, clapping or using noisemakers, and to limit drinking, as people tend to forget COVID-19 safety measures after consuming alcohol.