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Expert Says Tampa Bay Could See Spike In COVID-19 Cases After Super Bowl

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - We are hearing from a local public health expert on how Super Bowl celebrations could impact COVID-19 cases. Dr. Thomas Unnasch says if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, we won't see it for about a month.

There are two scenarios that Dr. Unnasch says we could see. Right now Coronavirus cases are steadily decreasing but in scenario one, we could see a slight increase again before it continues going decreasing. Scenario two could be caused by someone who has the more contagious variant of COVID-19. If someone had that variant at a Super Bowl Celebration, we could see a very large spike in cases.

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"This thing is so much more infectious, if it could get a really solid foothold some place and get going, we might have a real problem," said Dr. Unnasch.

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Dr. Thomas Unnasch is a public health professor who focuses on infectious diseases at the University of South Florida, and says a more contagious strain of COVID-19, from the United Kingdom, is in Florida right now. "About 15% of the infections out there seem to be this strain. It's much more infectious, about 50% more infectious," said Dr. Unnasch.

He says while the city did well taking precautions during the Super Bowl and Super Bowl Experience, there are situations that cause concern, adding, "What happened in Ybor and in some of the other places after the game was, you saw crowds of people in the bars and the streets who weren't wearing masks or social distancing."

He says the Super Bowl boat parade was one of those situations. "A little more crowded and a little more organized probably because it was arranged under a much shorter time period."

"It's a real kind of Russian Roulette. If you have an infected person, chances are, they're not very infectious, but if you run into one of these super spreaders and you're not really protecting yourself, chances are, you're going to get infected," said Dr. Unnasch. If someone with the more contagious strain was at one of these events, "We could be facing another large peak in infections over the next four to six weeks."

Dr. Unnasch says we should start seeing the impact of the Super Bowl by mid-March.


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