Feb 9, 2021 - Sports

Tampa Bay's Super Bowl celebrations spur COVID super-spreader fears

Buccaneers fans celebrate the team's Super Bowl victory in downtown Tampa. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Brady and Gronkowski got Tampa Bay the Lombardi Trophy, but the city fumbled its pandemic-era Super Bowl win with postgame mass celebrations.

Why it matters: Anthony Fauci and other top health officials pleaded the city to stay home — or, at the very least, be smart about small gatherings — but that didn't stop throngs of maskless fans from swarming downtown Tampa and SoHo.

The state of play: The "boozy revelers" made national headlines in the New York Times, HuffPost, the Daily Mail and more.

  • It seemed not many were afraid of the $500 fine from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor's mask order.
  • 10 tons of trash were cleaned up in the aftermath from Tampa streets, mostly in Ybor and SoHo, BayNews9 reports, costing the city about $50,000.

Our thought bubble: Saying the city was supposed to set a good example sounds like chastising kids who acted out on a field trip, but for so many — including frontline essential workers — this is life and death.

What's next: The Hillsborough County health department put out a national call requesting information on COVID-19 cases associated with Super Bowl LV.

  • Hillsborough will document all confirmed cases, Florida resident or not, of patients who report having attended the game or any official events surrounding it, health department spokesman Kevin Watler said.

The bottom line: If Florida had any shot of hosting the Olympics, and it's not clear that the idea was any more than a publicity stunt, we probably blew it Sunday night.

  • We were never that into it, anyway: After state CFO Jimmy Patronis asked the International Olympic Committee to consider relocating this summer's Games from Tokyo to Florida, a plurality of Americans surveyed — mostly Democrats — opposed the idea, per Morning Consult.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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