Chicago reports Lollapalooza was not a superspreader event despite 400K attendees

on Aug12
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Chicago’s top doctor said the city’s recent music festival, Lollapalooza, was not a superspreader event. 

“We’ve had no unexpected findings at this point, there’s no evidence at this point of a superspreader event,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday at a press conference. 

So far, 14 days after Lollapalooza kicked off, there have been just over 200 cases of the virus identified with the 385,000 people who attended. There have been no hospitalizations or deaths linked to the festival. 

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Arwady stressed that the data her office examined has not been a surprise, explaining that requiring the attendees be vaccinated or show proof of a negative coronavirus test largely protected them against the virus. 

She added that the music festival also encouraged some attendees to get the vaccine. 

“We saw younger attendees were more likely to say that attending Lollapalooza was an incentive for them to be vaccinated,” she said. 

The findings come after there was concern the massive gathering would spark a superspreader event, in light of the delta variant and following widespread fears of such gatherings last summer. 

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“I think it has the makings [of a superspreader event],” Theresa Chapple-McGruder, a Chicago area maternal and child epidemiologist, told TIME in July. “When we’re in a place where rates are rising, we need to put prevention strategies in place. I don’t see how a large festival like this could meet that criteria of slowing the spread.”

Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot, however, urged caution on large gatherings but said she has “no regrets” over allowing Lollapalooza to proceed. 

“We checked with [attendees] every single day, multiple times a day. We had our people at the screening checkpoints,” Lightfoot told Chicago radio station WVON-AM earlier this month . “Every single day, they turned hundreds of people away, either who didn’t have the right paperwork or had an expired test that wasn’t [taken] within 72 hours. That tells me there is a rigor around the protocols that they were using to screen people.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 31:  Crowd catches Wes Borland's guitar during Lollapalooza 2021 at Grant Park on July 31, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JULY 31:  Crowd catches Wes Borland’s guitar during Lollapalooza 2021 at Grant Park on July 31, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Chicago is continuing to hold smaller music festivals this summer, and Arwady added that music fests in other areas of the country, such as Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Summerfest in Wisconsin, are following Lollapalooza’s lead on requiring vaccines or negative virus tests.  

“We want to stay open as a city, but staying open also means being careful, it means, first and foremost, getting vaccinated. It means getting tested if you have any COVID symptoms, and for now wearing a mask and indoor public places,” Arwady said. 

Other large gatherings across the country have also cropped up this summer after last year’s lockdowns, including in South Dakota this week.  

An estimated 700,000 people are expected to attend the Sturgis Motorcycle rally, which kicked off last Friday and will last 10 days. Health officials there have also urged caution, but said the rally can be done “safely” with “proper precautions.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, has continued slamming some gatherings, such a Sturgis, saying it could spark a surge in cases.

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“I’m very concerned, Chuck, that we’re going to see another surge related to that rally,” Fauci told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday of Sturgis. 

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“There comes a time when you’re dealing with a public health crisis, that could involve you, your family, and everyone else that something supersedes that need to do exactly what you want to do,” Fauci added.

Fauci received backlash this week for the comments, due to him remaining silent on other gatherings, such as former President Barack Obama’s birthday bash in Martha’s Vineyard last weekend. 



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