TAMPA, F.L. (WFLA) – Despite a mask order from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a majority of fans watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl championship boat parade without wearing one.
Public health experts are warning some Super Bowl events with big crowds could become a “super spreader.”
“Fans were spread out on land and water, and a large percentage of them wore masks,” Mayor Castor said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “City employees gave out approximately 10,000 masks to fans on land along the parade route.”
But that is not what local cameras observed along the packed boat parade route, especially in congested areas along the Tampa Riverwalk by Curtis Hixon Park.
“I don’t see how the numbers aren’t gonna go up given the way everything happened over the past few days,” Tom DeGeorge, owner of Crowbar in Ybor City and founder of the “Safe and Sound” initiative, said.
After largely maskless crowds filled the streets in the Ybor district over the weekend, DeGeorge said what he witnessed during the parade did not surprise him.
“The care that was put into it with the NFL Experience and the Super Bowl was top notch,” DeGeorge said. “I didn’t see the same amount of meticulous planning for the safety of our community.”
Hillsborough Schools superintendent Addison Davis responded Thursday to being caught on camera without a mask.
“Along with several other local leaders, I attended the championship presentation at the port to celebrate our partners, the Buccaneers, and their historic win,” Davis said. “I wore my mask throughout the event, only taking it off briefly for a few photos and then putting it back on for the remainder of the time I was in attendance. As I said in my email to employees and families last week, we should always follow CDC guidelines to stay healthy and safe, and that includes me. In hindsight, I should have kept my mask on for the entire celebration.”
Mayor Castor said in her statement it comes down to “personal responsibility” to do the “right thing and care about the safety of others.”
“I remain concerned about our COVID numbers and it’s a balance between celebrating a historic win that’s lifted up our community with ensuring that it’s done safely,” she said in her statement. “Our City placed a great amount of effort on the front end to keep everyone safe by educating, communicating, and passing out masks.”
DeGeorge said he would like to work with local leaders to come up with a plan to better protect the community from the coronavirus as he looks at the next big events on the calendar.
“With the help of the city and the county, if need be, and really look at what our game plan is going to be for weekends like St. Patrick’s day and Wrestlemania,” DeGeorge said.
The Florida Department of Health reported 525 new COVID-19 cases in Hillsborough County and a positivity rate for new cases of 7.51 percent.