Covid-19: Americans advised to enjoy Super Bowl responsibly

Advice comes as Biden signals 1.5m inoculations daily within first 100 days in office

Americans have been advised to enjoy this weekend's Super Bowl responsibly, as the death toll from Covid-19 in the United States passed more than 454,000 this week.

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the highlights of the sporting and entertainment calendar in the United States, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs this year.

Attendance at the 65,000-seat football stadium in Florida will be limited to 25,000, including 7,500 health workers who have been vaccinated.

Guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week advised the public not to travel for Super Bowl parties, and instead to hold virtual or outdoor events. “This year, choose a safer way to enjoy the game,” the government agency said.


The advice comes as US president Joe Biden announced that 1,000 active duty troops will be deployed to help with the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations as the new administration aims to administer 1.5 million inoculations a day within Mr Biden's first 100 days in office.

The first set of troops will be sent to California within 10 days. "The military's critical role in supporting sites will help vaccinate thousands of people per day and ensure that every American who wants a vaccine will receive one," said Andy Slavitt, senior Covid-19 adviser to the Biden administration. Mr Biden is expected to visit a vaccination centre, virtually, on Monday.

Speaking at the White House Covid-19 response team briefing on Friday, top immunologist Anthony Fauci said the UK variant of the coronavirus was becoming more prevalent in the United States.

While recognising the progress in rolling out vaccines, he stressed that “viruses will not evolve and mutate if you do not give them an open playing-field”, urging the public to “double down on adherence to public health measures”.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the United States had reported 121,000 new cases on February 3rd, marking a 61 per cent reduction since January 8th. Similarly, new hospital admissions were down 42 per cent, to 10,500 on February 3rd. Nonetheless, she said that the fall in cases and hospitalisations needed to be seen in context.

“While the data are moving in the right direction, context is important because cases, hospital admissions, and deaths all remain high and well above the levels that we saw in the summer and early fall,” she said.

The US has so far administered about 28 million coronavirus vaccines, with states responsible for the rollout.

This week, Johnson & Johnson announced it had applied for approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine, with the agency due to consider the request later this month. The US has already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which require patients to receive two doses spaced weeks apart.

The Biden administration is also in discussion with several companies about providing more at-home testing kits. Dr Fauci said the goal was to have “millions of Americans being able to access at-home tests” by the summer. “At-home tests are one of the key steps to getting back to normal life,” he said.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent