On Feb. 2, the 49ers were seven minutes away from winning Super Bowl LIV, bringing a title and everything that comes with that monumental feat back to San Francisco.
The following day, University of California, San Francisco Health reported that two patients with coronavirus were transferred over to their hospital. It can be difficult to see the silver lining in a Super Bowl loss, but the Wall Street Journal reports that their defeat "may have saved lives."
If the Niners were to win the Super Bowl, a celebratory parade would follow days later. As the Wall Street Journal points out, if the crowd was anywhere near the Warriors’ three championship parades in Oakland which was between 500,000 to 1.5 million fans, the spread of the coronavirus could’ve had a devastating effect on the city and state.
"It may go down in the annals as being a brutal sports loss," Dr. Bob Wachter, University of California San Francisco's Department of Medicine chair, told WSJ, "but one that may have saved lives." In comparison, Kansas City didn’t report its first COVID-19 case until March 18. One day before California issued a stay-at-home order in response to 675 confirmed cases and 16 deaths, according to the New York Times.
The 49ers' loss "may be one of the lucky breaks that spared us from a much worse fate," Dr. Wachter told the WSJ. As of Tuesday, California has the sixth-most reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. with over 24,000 while more than 700 people have died.