Health experts say flu virus could quickly spread during Super Bowl weekend

YMCA says it is important to wipe down gym equipment. Especially during flu season. (Ray Hole WWMT)

Concern of the flu in West Michigan is spreading just as fast as the virus itself across the country and with the Super Bowl just a couple days away, it will be one of the biggest social weekends of the season.

Health professionals said with the alarming number of flu cases, it may be a good idea to keep to yourself and, though the flu virus is spreading at an alarming rate, there is no need to panic yet.

To keep the viral germs at a bare minimum, Arcadia Brewing Company is working twice as hard ahead what they hope will be a very busy weekend.

“It’s a number one focus for everyone right now to make sure the guests are safe and they feel comfortable coming out,” Stephen Walantyn, director of pub operations at Arcadia, said.

To stay on top of everyone’s health management said they’ll be scrubbing the restaurant twice as much.

“More frequently handwashing every time you’re touching or touching doors. So, the staff if really focused on everything they can do daily to double that to assure people are safe when they come have a good time at Arcadia,” Walantyn said.

Staff is even sanitizing the U.S. Bank Arena in Minneapolis ahead of the Super Bowl and with the number of flu cases increasing across the country, health experts said going to the big game or watch party could be risky.

“When we get significant numbers, it doesn’t make any sense to bring large groups of people together,” Dr. David Davenport, medical director of Borgess Infection Prevention and Control. said, “If these numbers continue to rise the next two to three weeks, we’ll probably have to move to more measures for social distancing.”

For those who want to get out for a social weekend, staff at Arcadia said they’re working around the clock to keep the place clean.

“It’s something we don’t take lightly. The minute somebody comes in and they got some sniffles or whatever it’s, ‘Hey, go home, take the day off. Don’t bring it here,’ Walantyn said.

Health experts, like Davenport, are advising people to use more caution at all social gatherings this time of year. Davenport, describing this flu season as an epidemic, said the number of flu cases are increasing at an alarming rate in West Michigan and across the country.

Staff at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo have been staying after hours to make sure the facility place is sanitized thoroughly. Directors said they’re putting in the extra time because they’ve seen an influx of students from school closures due to the flu.

“The impact of this week’s surge of flu has been really strong on our facility because we’re seeing so many young people that we normally don’t have under our roof,” Vicky Kettner, marketing and communications manager for YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, said. “Today and yesterday, we were at capacity. With all the school closures we’ve had to make accommodations and then also take very serious precautions against the spreading of germs.”

It’s always been a rule to wipe down gym equipment at the YMCA after each use. Kettner said that rule is now more important than ever.

“Especially this week with the onset of the flu, we’re asking everyone to be very diligent about wiping after themselves, especially in our gym area,” Kettner said.

Signs and sanitation stations are posted throughout the YMCA to help prevent the flu from spreading.

Davenport mentioned his concern that hand washing and sanitizer may not be enough in the future, as the virus is constantly changing at any given time.

“For which no one has immunity and we have a major pandemic and with the way we make vaccines now, we wouldn’t be able to get a vaccine out quick enough,” Davenport said. “We need a world approach to these diseases. We’re actually due for a pandemic, no one can predict it.”

For now, the YMCA is working around the clock to keep the place germ free, so even the most vulnerable will have lower risk.

“In our youth development area, we’re staying after hours and cleaning very thoroughly and also having those conversations with our young people to wash their hands frequently, to cough in their sleeves,” said Kettner.

The YMCA had to cancel several league sports games this weekend because of the school closures.

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