Post #1029: Post Super Bowl non-explosion of cases

Posted on February 25, 2021

Source:  Calculated from NY Times Github COVID-19 data repository, data reported through 2/24/2021.  Areas are defined as the counties currently within the Tampa/St. Petersburg and Kansas City KS/MO MSAs.

So far, I have found exactly one news article that actually followed up on the dire threat of a post-Super-Bowl explosion of cases.  That one, lonely piece of reporting was from a TV station in the Tampa Bay area.  Their conclusion is that, no, there was no uptick in cases following the Super Bowl.  At least, not in the Tampa Bay area.

The news article features the usual cast of professionals solemnly intoning that people must have heeded the warnings, and that’s why there’s no uptick.  In a completely data-free manner, of course.  Because it could never be the case that the experts issuing those dire warnings were wrong, and that they hadn’t bothered to do even the tiniest bit of data analysis regarding Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Neither of which resulted in a “surge” of cases, as had been widely predicted.

Empirically, the “post-holiday surge” story has been wrong three times before.  Wrong for Canadian Thanksgiving (Post #916).  Wrong for Thanksgiving (Post #922).  And wrong for Christmas/New Year’s (Post #948).

And now we can add, wrong for the Super Bowl as well.

Might as well add Groundhog Day to the list.  (And if I have to explain the joke, it ain’t funny.)

Just to put this to bed, I took county-level data available from my usual source (NY Times Github COVID-19 data repository), and looked at the Tampa Bay and Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).  (They aren’t officially called MSAs any more, but who cares.)  The assumption here is that there would be proportionately more partying in those locations than in others.  And, in particular, more in the Tampa Bay area, owing to the outcome of the game.

I dare you to identify which area is which, in the graph above, based on the “explosion” of new cases two weeks after the Super Bowl.

Tampa is blue, Kansas City is orange, and the rest of the US is gray.