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Few masks seen during post-Super Bowl LV celebrations

Although some took the advice of officials and public health experts, many others didn't.

TAMPA, Fla. — Despite the seemingly endless pleas from public health experts, not everyone masked up during post-Super Bowl LV celebrations.

Some appeared to be a little too close for comfort, too, while celebrating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Tampa Police Department said its officers had to deploy something following the big game after crowds flooded the streets. Officers said it was not tear gas, but they do have other agents that they use for situations. 

This latest flaunting of COVID-19 safety protocols, like wearing a face mask and social distancing, comes as Tampa police recently said a Friday night Super Bowl event featuring DJ Steve Akoi was "disappointing" considering the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor signed the order extending the city's mask mandate to include outdoor areas near Raymond James Stadium, downtown Tampa and the city's entertainment district. 

Anyone found in violation could face up to a $500 fine.

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last week worried about the Super Bowl becoming a sort of superspreader event. While the NFL took several steps at Raymond James Stadium to help keep fans safe, such as mandatory masking and limiting stadium capacity, parties are of greater concern.

"I’m worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly. People gather, they watch games together. We’ve seen outbreaks already from football parties,” Walensky said. "So I really do think that we need to watch this and be careful."

Wearing a face mask and social distancing remain the top ways to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to the CDC. A mask, experts say, provides a barrier over the nose and mouth to help prevent viral particles from entering or expelling.

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