We’ve talked a lot about the NFL Draft as it’s just over a week away. Stories like this are a nice break from the draft. By now, you’ve likely seen the Wall Street Journal article titled, “The 49ers lost the Super Bowl and may have saved lives.” The article is related to the coronavirus outbreak, where a small group of Bay Area doctors was dealing with the region’s initial cases. The doctors met during the Super Bowl and worked overnight and into the next morning as the first two confirmed patients were confirmed with the virus as they were transferred to the University of California San Francisco’s hospital.
That number could have been much higher if the 49ers had won the Super Bowl, per the article, as hundreds of thousands of 49ers fans would have filled the streets of San Francisco the following Wednesday for the Super Bowl parade. The experts working to contain the virus came away with the conclusion that, “San Francisco likely won when the 49ers lost.” Dr. Bob Wachter, the chair oof UCSF’s department of medicine, said, “It may go down in the annals as being a brutal sports loss, but one that may have saved lives.”
Health experts pointed out that mass gatherings as places where highly contagious viruses spread easily, and championship parades are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases as the hundreds of thousands, and maybe more would have been hugging, sharing beers, and high-fiving. Very few people were aware of the virus back in February, and good luck telling fans to stay away from a Super Bowl parade. Dr. Niraj Sehgal, who leads UCSF’s coronavirus command center, said, “it is certainly hard to imagine a more high-risk situation.”
The virus spreading isn’t news, but how quickly it could have spread and the potential damage to the citizens of the Bay Area is. When the Golden State Warriors won their three NBA titles, Oakland had anywhere between 500,000 to 1.5 million fans. One biology professor said, “If one person had it and spread it to a number of people at the parade, that could’ve had an impact on the epidemic trajectory.” San Francisco has been praised on the national news for its quick response to the virus. The Bay Area was one of the first places in the U.S. to identify the virus and has been one of the places that have the virus contained the best.