About 385,000 people attended Lollapalooza, one of the U.S.’s largest music festivals, in Chicago last month. Despite concerns about holding a major music event in light of the Delta variant, Lollapalooza was not a super-spreader.
What Did the Numbers Say?
Chicago public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady spoke at a press conference two weeks after the event concluded.
Of the 385,000 who attended, four in 10,000 tested positive for Covid after the event. However, the crowd was “90 percent-plus” vaccinated, Arwady said, and 16 in 10,000 unvaccinated attendees tested positive.
Arwady added that 22 people who later tested positive reported attending the event after noticing Covid symptoms. These instances underscore how important it is for individuals “not to ignore” symptoms, she said.
What Were the Rules?
Lollapalooza required attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Crucially, that negative test result had to be no more than 72 hours old on each day of entry. So, if someone wanted to attend all four days, that person would have to take a new test before the fourth day.
MIT notes that the average incubation period for Covid is five days and can be as little as two. Therefore, someone who is exposed to Covid could expect to actually become sick within a few days. Rules requiring tests no more than 72 hours old each day are designed to catch illness within the incubation period.
How Have Other Events Fared?
In Oregon, an outdoor music festival saw 66 infections, with 61 of them in unvaccinated individuals, per the Oregonian. The paper also says contact tracers believe the outdoor event was the source of spread, but notes critics point toward surrounding indoor activities. The 66 infections represent .55% of the 12,000 attendees – and the five infections in vaccinated individuals just .04%.
The Oregonian quotes University of Denver professor and Covid airborne transmission expert Dr. Alex Huffman. Huffman calls outdoor events “wildly safer” than indoor ones, while cautioning that crowded events carry higher risks than a socially distanced walk.
While vaccines have clearly reduced the risk of outdoor mass spectator events, even amidst the spread of the Delta variant, Oregon has taken the especially cautious approach of reinstituting an outdoor mask mandate for events at which social distancing is not possible.
What Did Lollapalooza Look Like?
Despite the threat of the Delta variant, Lollapalooza looked fairly normal.
After the festival concluded, Lollapalooza’s Twitter account posted a recap video highlighting the musical acts and crowds.
As for the pre-event procedures themselves, here’s an example of what they look like. The following isn’t Lollapalooza, but comes instead from a New Orleans Saints game.
The Saints are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter games, similar to Lollapalooza’s protocols.
“We remain optimistic that, with our community’s help and as vaccination rates increase, these restrictions will no longer be necessary as the season progresses,” the Saints said.
That sentiment encapsulates the attitude of much of the sports and entertainment industry right now – adapting to current challenges while working to ensure such adaptations are merely temporary steps on the road to normal.
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