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Coronavirus cases in California are plummeting after the winter surge.

As Santa Cruz County inches out of the pandemic, Lookout is chronicling the changes in our lives and the accomplishments of everyday people. “People in the Pandemic” is one of eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of life amid COVID. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, and sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here.

But officials say a major test of this new trend will come Sunday with the Super Bowl. There is growing concern that gatherings for the big game could become superspreader events. And with new, more contagious strains now in California, the danger is real.

“Super Bowl parties do have the power to derail our recovery,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week.

How can you enjoy the big game safely? Here are some tips:

Private gatherings

coronavirus-related restrictions in place“So unless your TV screen is outside, if you’re planning to watch the game, you should plan to spend this Sunday with members of just your household,” Ferrer said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hosting a virtual Super Bowl party if possible to avoid coming in contact with other people, or watching the game outdoors.

Here are some ideas from the CDC for a virtual watch party:

  • Wear clothing or decorate your home with your favorite team’s logo or colors.
  • Make appetizers or snacks with the people you live with to enjoy while watching the game, and share the recipes with your friends and family.
  • Start a text group with other fans to chat about the game while watching.
  • Use a projector screen to broadcast the game.

Wear a mask

Masks have proved to be dramatically effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC recommends the following:

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers.
  • Wear your mask over your nose and mouth, secure it under your chin and make sure it fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Masks should be worn indoors and outdoors, except when eating or drinking.
  • In cold weather, wear your mask under your scarf, ski mask or balaclava.
  • Keep a spare mask in case your mask becomes wet from moisture in your breath or from snow or rain.

If attending a gathering, have conversations with the host ahead of time to understand expectations for celebrating together. The CDC also recommends that you:

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, utensils and condiment packets.
  • Avoid shouting, cheering loudly or singing. Clap, stomp your feet or bring (or provide) hand-held noisemakers instead.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have been near someone who thinks they may have or have been exposed to COVID-19.

Stay at least 6 feet away

You are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others, public health experts say. The CDC warns that:

  • People without symptoms or with a recent negative test result can still spread COVID-19 to others.
  • Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household

Outdoor dining

Officials want to avoid big Super Bowl events at bars and restaurants. They think the coronavirus was spread over the fall at gatherings after the Dodgers won the World Series and the Lakers won the NBA championship.

Under new county rules, outdoor dining and wine service seating must be limited to 50% capacity, with tables positioned at least eight feet apart.

Outdoor seating also must be limited to no more than six people per table — and everyone sitting together must be from the same household, the health order mandates.

But perhaps the most noticeable of the rules is a ban on watching TV during outdoor dining.

Officials said this is a precaution designed to make eating outdoors at restaurants as safe as possible.

Already, some businesses are failing to adhere to the latest public health orders, issued when restaurants were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining last week.

In a statement Tuesday, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said that many of those areas were not following orders to have employees who interact with the public wear face coverings, nor were they in compliance with rules limiting how outdoor structures can be set up.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.