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COVID Surge Puts Chill on Football Fever With 49ers Set to Face Cowboys Sunday

SANTA CLARA (KPIX) -- For some, the upcoming three-day weekend may mean a trip to Arlington, Texas to see the 49ers face the Cowboys in the wild card round of the playoffs.

The Faithful hope to come home with a win but at what cost? People traveling this weekend risk piling up COVID cases during the ongoing omicron surge.

Sydney Johnson was at the 49ers store in Santa Clara doing some shopping Thursday. She bought 10 jerseys as her family got ready to fly to Dallas.

"We have our family: my brother, my sister and their significant others, my dad, my mom -- we're all going to the game!" Johnson said.

As it was in the 49ers' season-ending victory over the Rams at SoFi Stadium, the expectation is there will again be a sea of red Sunday when the 49ers face the Cowboys.

For those in the medical field, the goal is to drive home the message of harm reduction.

"I'm not one for saying don't engage in life in this new year of omicron but you have to be responsible and careful as much as you can," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco.

The long weekend together with the playoff game comes on the heels of a holiday coronavirus surge. According to UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford, there are signs that cases are starting to decline.

"We're right near the edge of tipping over and starting to go down in cases and stuff. You hate to have a new surge added in just as we're getting over this one," Dr. Rutherford said.

Another surge is a concern, especially for local hospitals. The number of hospitalizations tends to lag reported cases and the outlook is not good for an already stressed and under-staffed health care system.

"It's estimated that hospitalizations in California will go up by 100 percent in the next few weeks, which is going to be crazy because we're almost at capacity," Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.

Medical experts say have fun but be as safe as you can, no matter where you travel this weekend. Another recommendation is to be tested three days after you return from a trip.

"There may not be other people around you wearing masks but wear your mask. Give yourself a fighting chance of not getting infected," Dr. Rutherford said.

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