Top Health Official Says Super Bowl In L.A. Will Go On Despite Omicron Surge

0
629

Los Angeles County’s public health director and the chair of its Board of Supervisors both insisted today the Super Bowl will go forward as planned at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood next month. That’s despite concerns about today’s record number of Covid infections in L.A. that have impacted the Grammys, the IDA Awards, and tonight’s Anaheim Ducks game, among many other events, in the past 24 hours.

“It will be challenging if the surge continues into February, but I do think we’re working closely with both the NFL and SoFi Stadium to have a wonderful Super Bowl here with the appropriate safety precautions that will keep fans safe and our community safe,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a media videoconference. “I feel really confident the event will happen here in L.A. There’s no indication that it won’t, and we’ll work really closely to enhance safety if, again, we’re still in the middle of a horrific surge.”

Ferrer went on to predict, “I think for the next two weeks, we’re going to continue to see our case rates rise.”

“My hope is that by the time we get to February we’re on the downside of seeing this massive amount of community transmission,” she said.

Questions began surfacing about the fate of the Inglewood Super Bowl in light of surging number Covid numbers in the region. One in five tests in L.A. County has come back positive for Covid over the past week.

On Wednesday, the Grammy Awards ceremony set for Jan. 31 was indefinitely postponed. The Critics Choice Awards were previously put on hold, and both USC and UCLA have announced restricted attendance at indoor sporting events. Covid-19-related issues prompted the Anaheim Ducks
to postpone tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings at Honda Center in Anaheim, the NHL announced.

Ferrer noted that the Grammy Awards — and other similar events — are held indoors, and a postponement was a reasonable step in light of the increased risk of disease transmission.

The NFL confirmed Wednesday that it has been vetting potential alternative Super Bowl sites, with AT&T Stadium in Texas reported to be a prime contender, but a spokesman for the league said the NFL puts contingency plans in place every year just in case circumstances force a relocation.

The spokesman insisted there are no immediate plans to relocate this year’s Feb.13 game out of Inglewood.

L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell told reporters there is no logic in moving the game.

“This is an international pandemic. I’m not sure why it would make more sense to have it in Texas,” she said.

But Mitchell said holding the event safety will be dependent on the people attending it.

“My plea is to all of those — local and those who will travel to Inglewood to SoFi Stadium for the Super Bowl — that you follow our health orders and that you mask,” she said. “I would encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted before you come.

“We shouldn’t assume that individual decisions don’t have the greatest impact in the spread of this virus,” she said. “It’s up to the individual to chose to stay masked through the entire game to keep themselves safe and everyone else.”

SoFi is unique in that it has large “windows” on the north and south ends of the stadium that allow an ocean breeze to circulate. There was, however, no mention today of any kind of capacity restriction such as those that separate patrons at movie theaters for the reported 70,000-100,000 fans that SoFi can hold.