By Jai Bednall for news.com.au
Desperate warnings from health authorities to keep a lid on Super Bowl celebrations are being blatantly ignored in Tampa.
With more transmissible "mutant" variants of Covid-19 circulating, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, was blunt when asked if people should hold parties to celebrate the game.
"Absolutely not," he responded. "I mean, watch the Super Bowl on TV, enjoy it. Have a party in your house with your family with the people who are there.
"But you don't want parties with people that you haven't had much contact with, you just don't know if they're infected. So as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it."
Obviously these people in Tampa's Ybor City district didn't get the memo.
America has had more than 26 million coronavirus cases and close to half a million deaths.
If residents again reject public health guidance — such as mask wearing and avoiding gatherings — like they did in late 2020, government officials have warned that in some areas, even with a decent vaccination strategy, daily cases could be twice as bad as they were at the peak of America's surge in autumn and winter.
Today's game brings the curtain down on an NFL season that has been completed successfully despite the nationwide pandemic that has surged out of control at different times.
While Covid-19 forced multiple games to be postponed, and in one case required a team to start a game without a recognised quarterback, the league's safety protocols have largely held firm.
While most games this season took place in empty stadiums, limited numbers of fans were allowed into some venues.
Today's game will host a socially distanced crowd of around 25,000 in a venue which normally holds around 65,000 spectators.
The crowd will include 7500 vaccinated frontline health workers who have been invited to attend by the NFL.