It was a thrilling moment for Los Angeles sports fans: The Dodgers and Lakers both winning world championships within weeks of each other in the fall of 2020.

But health officials would later suggest the revelry that marked those teams’ paths to victory carried an unintended consequence: helping keep the COVID-19 pandemic smoldering before it exploded during the holiday season into a winter surge.

Now, California is on the downslope of yet another coronavirus surge as it enters another season of celebration. Numerous family gatherings and community events are scheduled to mark the Lunar New Year next week. And the L.A. Rams and the San Francisco 49ers will duke it out at SoFi Stadium on Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl — scheduled in Inglewood two weeks later — on the line.

But as California’s experience illustrates all too clearly, celebration without caution could wind up prolonging a pandemic already set to enter its third year.

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