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New data shows Super Bowl celebrations might not cause huge spike in COVID-19 cases

"Luckily for us the Super Bowl took place when the pandemic was actually shrinking..." said Dr. Edwin Michael

TAMPA, Fla — A new data-driven COVID-19 model shows this week’s Super Bowl celebrations will likely cause an increase in cases, but the numbers won’t be as high as many expected.

"The spike is not as big as I was...anticipating...” said Dr. Edwin Michael.

Dr. Michael is an epidemiologist and professor at the USF College of Public Health. He also has modeled mathematical data for the World Health Organization.

RELATED: Hillsborough County’s health department launches national effort to track COVID-19 cases connected to Super Bowl

To make predictions about the course of COVID-19 cases in our area, he uses cell phone data to understand how much non-essential movement is happening, and that information forevasts how many cases we could see in the coming weeks.

RELATED: Will Super Bowl LV lead to a COVID spike? Let's look to the Lightning celebration

"Luckily for us the Super Bowl took place when the pandemic was actually shrinking--when the transmission rate in the community in the Tampa community was pretty low,” Dr. Michael said. "We are saying that the Super Bowl impact will be like 200...cases"

However, this assumes two percent of the population that came to visit were infectious, and there was a 50 percent reduction in social safety measures.

If that number varies, so could the number of cases we see as a result. Either way--Dr. Michael says there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"You can see the pandemic is declining. So that by August, you know you should see that the back end of this pandemic,” he said.

Dr. Michael says predictions about the end of the pandemic toward August depend on how well vaccinations roll out, and how well we maintain mask and social distancing measures over the next few months.

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