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49ers Playoffs: Health Expert Urges Safety For NFC Championship Gatherings

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – With just days away from this weekend's big NFC Championship, health experts are reminding football fans to be careful as they gather for Sunday's game, especially indoors.

Millions across the nation are expected to watch Sunday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams.

Despite Santa Clara County's positive cases trending downward, cases remain at a record high. The county's rolling 7-day average as of Wednesday stood at 3,699 versus 4,732 from exactly the week prior.

"We still are in the surge," said Stanford Health Infectious Disease Dr. Anne Liu. "People were really getting together a lot over the holidays, naturally, so the conditions now are back in place for that spread to happen and if people do start getting together indoors again."

Liu said all the measures we've been educated about for the last two years -- including getting together outdoors and wearing masks -- should be followed, if possible when gathering.

She added that everyone should also be aware the newest variant, BA.2, is here in the Bay Area and it's unknown how transmissible it is or whether it causes severe disease.

Megan Kawkab, the owner and operator of The Patio in Palo Alto, is revving up for a packed house during Sunday's game. But she said it's important to make sure the gathering at her restaurant and bar doesn't become a superspreader event.

"That's our biggest fear, is that would happen," said Kawkab. "All of our seating is a little bit sporadic. Every single table is sat, we don't just let people come in and sit down, even at the bar. We do walk people and sit them at the tables."

She said windows will be open and the HEPA filter will be on for those seated in the indoor seating area. In addition, no more than eight people will be allowed at a table for both the indoor portion and outdoor patio.

"Our customers, a lot of them are our family, and we do were worry about them," said Kawkab.

She believes football fans can still gather this weekend, and be safe while having fun. Dr. Liu agrees.

"Make plans, be together, but do things that will lower the risk of transmission and then we won't see a bump in cases," Liu said.

After the Omicron surge brought down sales at The Patio by 20%, Kawkab said she's ready to welcome 49ers fans on Sunday to celebrate.

"Oh, we're going to win, we're going to win," Kawkab said.

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