By Ben Sullivan and the Associated Press

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says when it comes to Super Bowl parties during the pandemic, people should “just lay low and cool it.”

He said during TV interviews today that now isn’t the time to invite people over for watch parties because of the possibility that they’re infected with the coronavirus and could sicken others.

Big events like Sunday’s game in Tampa, Florida, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are always a cause for concern over the potential for virus spread, Fauci said.

“You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with,” he told NBC’s “Today” show. “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.”

The message was echoed by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said the emergence of highly contagious COVID-19 variants threatens to erase progress in slowing the spread of the disease.

“Based on contact tracing of recent variant cases, not wearing masks and participating in in-person social gatherings have contributed to the variant spread,” she said at a White House briefing. “Now is not the time to let our guard down.”

“This Sunday, remember whichever team you’re rooting for, and whichever commercial is your favorite, please watch the Super Bowl safely, gathering only virtually or with the people you live with,” Walensky said.

Walensky urged football fans to follow guidance posted by the CDC on how to watch the game safely. Guidelines include hosting a virtual party, or hosting people you don’t live with outdoors while staying at least six feet apart.

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