Still too early to see Super Bowl LV COVID-19 impact as crowd celebrates in boat parade
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans line the Riverwalk as Tampa Bay Buccaneers players, family and friends celebrate their Super Bowl 55 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs with a boat parade in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Image via AP.

boat parade
Images and videos of the parade show large, mostly maskless crowds.

Hillsborough and Pinellas counties continued to report stable COVID-19 case numbers into Tuesday, according to Florida Department of Health data released Wednesday.

Hillsborough County, which hosted the concentration of Super Bowl activities, confirmed 389 cases on Tuesday. With the addition of Tuesday’s numbers, the county has reported 104,604 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The county also reported five additional hospitalizations and six new deaths, bringing the virus’ death toll to 1,377.

Pinellas County confirmed 188 new cases, as well as 13 new deaths and 25 additional hospitalizations. Since the start of the pandemic, the county has seen 62,132 cases of COVID-19, and 1,357 deaths attributed to the virus.

Both counties are maintaining positivity rates below 10% — the indicator of mass community spread. Pinellas reported a 4.66% rate on Tuesday, and Hillsborough saw a rate of 6.65%.

Despite the lower case numbers, it is still too soon to see the impact of Super Bowl festivities from the past weekend — and concerns are growing as Tampa hosted a Super Bowl victory boat parade Wednesday to celebrate the Buccaneers’ win.

Images and videos of the parade show large crowds, with some individuals masked, and many not, despite Mayor Jane Castor emphasizing that people attending the parade must wear masks and observe social distancing rules.

This event adds to the concern — last Saturday, Tampa Bay Times photographer Luis Santana photographed thousands of party-goers in Ybor City on the eve of the Super Bowl, many not wearing masks and in cramped conditions.

Then, on game day, more party-goers were captured in the Channelside district and other bay area party spots without masks or social distancing measures.

The images of the night also show disregard to Mayor Castor’s executive order requiring masks  outdoors within specified locations related to Super Bowl LV.

The Mayor expressed frustration at the lack of mitigation efforts at the festivities, and even President Joe Biden is expressing concern about the potential effects of Super Bowl revelers this weekend in Tampa.

However, the impact of these events won’t be known until the end of this week and into the next. For now, COVID-19 cases remain steady.

Amid the concern, vaccinations efforts are being streamlined in the counties.

Hillsborough County has vaccinated 99,561 individuals, including 47,302 who have received a second dose. Pinellas has vaccinated 97,930 people, 39,358 of whom have completed the series.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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