The perfect storm: Super Bowl gatherings, Valentine's Day weekend, low COVID vaccine supply could cause next surge in SoCal

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Health officials across the Southland are concerned that Super Bowl gatherings coupled with Valentine's Day weekend and a low supply of COVID-19 vaccines could lead to the next surge in cases.

The daily number of new infections and the hospitalization rate have been steadily declining over the past month in Los Angeles County, but officials warned the public not to gather on Super Bowl Sunday to avoid a repeat of last year's World Series and NBA Finals, when gatherings at bars, restaurants and private homes were blamed for fueling a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"Despite seeing some decreases, we continue to experience widespread community transmission in our county,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health banned TVs and outdoor screens at restaurants to limit the number of people gathering and avoid COVID-19 "superspreader" events.

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After a two-month shutdown due to surging COVID-19 cases, outdoor dining again was allowed in Los Angeles County on Friday but with a new restriction forcing restaurants to turn off or remove from customer seating areas all televisions used for broadcast programming.

But Long Beach, which has its own public health department, was the only city in the county that allowed eateries to keep televisions on outside during Super Bowl LV.

Some people, including those who don't live in Long Beach, flocked to the coastal city for the big game.

"I live in West L.A. and had to come down here so that we could watch -- it was the closest destination," one man said at a Long Beach restaurant. "It's very safe, everyone spaced out."

There is also concern over private gatherings, which health officials say is still risky when it involves people outside of your household.

"The Super Bowl and Valentine's Day weekend, and so we're gonna see some infections because of that. That coupled with a decline in the number of vaccines that we have, we're gonna see a little bit of a spike come end of February," said Dr. Anthony Cardillo, an ER specialist and CEO of Mend Urgent Care in Los Angeles.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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