As thousands of Bengals fans prepare to celebrate during the Super Bowl this weekend, Hamilton County’s health commissioner is warning people to stay home if they feel sick.
“If you’re feeling ill, don’t go to those (Super Bowl) parties. If you’re in those crowded locations we encourage folks to wear masks,” said Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman.
It’s the same warning folks have been hearing for the last two years, but now there’s been some progress made.
“We know that just a month ago we had more cases than we’ve had at any other moment during the time pandemic,” said Kesterman. “We also know that a large portion of our community, really our nation, have gotten sick from Omicron so it is possible that there is some immunity that we as a community have built up from the vaccine, as well as from individuals getting sick. So hopefully we won’t see any major spikes in the aftermath of the Super Bowl.”
Currently, there are 16,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton County. That is roughly half the number of active cases compared to last week. The positivity rate is nearly 15%.
For those traveling to Los Angeles for the big game, they can expect a lower positivity rate of roughly 8%. Masks are required for all ages. All individuals 5 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
The NFL is also holding vaccination clinics at the convention center every day of the fan experience. Vaccines are free and those who receive one will get free tickets to enter the Super Bowl experience event. Free COVID-19 tests will also be handed out to folks leaving the convention center.
“My son and I are both full vaccinated so we’ve got the cards. And obviously it’s just part of the world we live in now,” said Max Helmer, who will be attending the game with his son Noah.
Helmer said the pandemic did not deter him from deciding to go to the game.
“It’s a challenge, it is definitely a challenge. I don’t want to minimize it at all, but in this particular situation it didn’t play a role in our decision to go. Nothing was really going to stand in our way,” he said.
Helmer, who lived in Cincinnati for more than two decades, recently moved to northwest Indiana. But, he kept his season tickets and often made the four hour drive to Paul Brown Stadium for games this season.
He said the chance to witness the Super bowl with his son is a memory he couldn’t turn down.
“With the Bengals being in the Super Bowl after everything and just the age of my son, he’s 12 years old, so around the same time I became a fan 35 years later, it just made perfect sense and it was something that we couldn’t pass up,” he said.
Other fans planning to head to Los Angeles for the game said taking precautions against COVID-19 infection is just part of the process for them.
“We’ve been on this journey (of the pandemic) now for two years so everybody kind of needs to look intrinsically and make sure they’re doing everything that’s right for themselves and their family,” said Mayank Mattal, who is leaving for Los Angeles Thursday. “That is kind of how I’ve done it across these playoff games … masking when possible, double masking when possible.”
Mattal has attended every playoff game this season, including the conference championship game.
“It was kind of a moment we never thought was even possible, right? We’re all looking for Super Bowl tickets and everything that comes with this weekend,” he said. “It’s always kind of a joke if the Bengals ever go to the Super Bowl you want to be there, and now it’s here.”
He doesn’t have tickets to the game yet, but plans to continue looking for a good deal when he arrives in California on Thursday.