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Study links high NFL game attendance to COVID spikes

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Friday, November 25, 2022 - 3:57pm
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Whether to stop or throttle back attendance at major sporting events was a major bone of contention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New research in the journal JAMA Network Open tries to clarify the picture.

A study of NFL games during the 2020 season suggests a link between attendance and COVID spikes in surrounding counties 14 and 21 days later.

The inferred connection held strongest for games attended by 20,000-plus fans and petered off steeply for games with 5,000 or fewer seats filled.

The county-level approach let authors capture the effects of other game-day activities like tailgating but lacked a way to settle which ones affected case rates.

More research is needed to move beyond inference and nail down such specifics.

Coronavirus Science