Hillsborough County has reached a significant marker in COVID-19 vaccinations amid a week crowded with large Super Bowl events and concerns of potential spread.
Hillsborough County has now vaccinated 102,405 individuals, almost half of whom have received a second dosage, according to the state’s latest vaccination report. Neighboring Pinellas County has administered the vaccine to 99,163 people, 42,805 of whom have completed the series.
The strides made by the counties in vaccinations, however, may be challenged by the potential super-spreader events held in celebration of Super Bowl LV.
In the most recent report, Hillsborough County reported its highest daily caseload since last Thursday.
The county confirmed 525 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as well as 10 additional deaths and five new hospitalizations. Since the start of the pandemic, Hillsborough has reported 105,142 cases, including 1,387 deaths.
Pinellas County reported 366 new cases, also its highest daily caseload since last Thursday. It also confirmed 15 new deaths and 16 additional hospitalizations. So far, it has recorded 62,499 cases and 1,372 deaths.
Both counties are maintaining positivity rates below 10% — an indicator above which suggests mass community spread. On Wednesday, Pinellas County reported a rate of 4.98% and Hillsborough County 7.51%.
The impact of Super Bowl festivities from the past weekend will likely begin to start showing near the end of the week and into the next — and concerns are growing following Wednesday’s Super Bowl victory boat parade to celebrate the Buccaneers’ win.
Images and videos of the parade show large crowds, with few individuals masked, and most not, despite Mayor Jane Castor emphasizing that people attending the parade must wear masks and observe social distancing rules.
This event adds to concern after 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 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.