With delta, is it even safe to go to music festivals or outdoor concerts? Here's what experts say

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CNBC 04 August, 2021 - 10:22am 58 views

Who performed at Lollapalooza 2021?

Lollapalooza 2021 continued on Saturday with a high-profile and eclectic Day 3 lineup that included Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, Limp Bizkit, Freddie Gibbs, 1970s pop-rockers Journey, and singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun in one of the day's most heartfelt, powerful and timely sets. Chicago Sun-TimesLollapalooza 2021 reviews, Day 3: Cannons, Michigander, Megan Thee Stallion, Freddie Gibbs, Post Malone

Where is Lollapalooza held?

Lolla Is Your World Lolla takes over historic Grant Park in Downtown Chicago, alongside the beautiful Chicago skyline and the shores of Lake Michigan. lollapalooza.comLollapalooza – July 29-August 1, 2021 – Grant Park, Chicago

Photographs from Lollapalooza, which took place from Wednesday to Sunday, show large groups of un-masked concertgoers cheering in densely packed crowds. Organizers have not released official attendance numbers, but over 100,000 people were expected to attend each day of the four-day festival.

Lollapalooza's safety measures ahead of the event were straightforward: The festival required attendees to present their vaccination card indicating that they were fully or partially vaccinated. Unvaccinated individuals had to show proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of attending and wear a mask.

But even with the safety protocol in place, is it safe to attend a crowded outdoor concert at this stage of the pandemic with the more transmissible delta variant dominating?

It's too early to say whether there will be an outbreak due to the Lallpalooza concert.

But we know from data out of a Provincetown, Massachusetts outbreak that people who are fully vaccinated are capable of getting infected with and transmitting Covid, Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of Loyola Medicine's Infection Control Program, tells CNBC Make It.

"The more crowded the venue, the more likely they'll happen," he says.

"At this point, for everybody, it's really about balancing risk," says Anna Bershteyn, assistant professor at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, who specializes in infectious disease modeling.

Here's what experts want you to know about the risks, as well as some safety measures to keep in mind if you're planning to attend a large outdoor concert or gathering:

In July, the Verknipt outdoor festival in the Netherlands followed similar rules to Lollapalooza (attendees had to show a QR code demonstrating that they were fully vaccinated, proof of a negative Covid test or recent infection), but ultimately, more than 1,000 people tested positive following the event.

Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, refers to these types of measures as "hygiene theater," because they give the appearance of safety but do not ensure that the risk is reduced. In reality, people could forge a negative Covid test or create a counterfeit vaccination record (although Lollapalooza's guidelines remind attendees that doing so is illegal).

"When your safety measures rely on the honesty of individuals, it's a little tough to count on," Carnethon says. "I think the vast majority of people will try to do the right thing, but some will not."

Plus, there is new evidence that even vaccinated people can become infected with and transmit the delta variant, though it is more rare. Although breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals tend to be milder, they can still spread Covid to people who are unvaccinated or who are vulnerable to severe illness from Covid.

If you're someone who lives with a person who is ineligible for vaccination or who is immunocompromised, consider skipping the event, Bershteyn says. "Even though [a vaccinated person] might not get sick, you might be part of a transmission chain that could make somebody else quite sick," she says.

Music festivals often attract people from out of the state or even the country.

Chicago was "doing fairly well" with vaccination rates, Carnethon says. In Cook County, where Chicago is located, 60% of the population is fully vaccinated for Covid, according to the CDC. "But inviting people from around the country into the city for [the Lollapalooza] festival, that is largely targeting the age range who is least likely to be vaccinated, certainly did pose some risks," she says.

Travel increases the risk of Covid transmission and infection. Once you arrive at a music festival from out of town, you might be staying in a busy hotel or taking public transportation like trains and shuttle buses to get to and from shows, Carnethon. "All of those certainly are places where the virus is at risk of spreading," she says.

The most important thing you can do to ensure you're safe at an outdoor concert or gathering is to get vaccinated, Parada says.

Then, even though the CDC doesn't require fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in outdoor settings, given the packed environment of a concert, and the fact that many people will be screaming or cheering, it's a good idea to mask up in a crowd, Carnethon says.

Wear a mask for any encounter where you're in a small and constrained space, Carnethon says. For example, using the portable toilets, waiting in line for drinks or standing in a space where people are pressed up very close next to you, she says.

"What we're learning about this particular variant is that the viral loads are higher initially, so the time of exposure is shorter," she says.

Though it may not create the most exciting concert-going experience, it's safest to stands on the outskirts of a crowd where you are able to maintain social distance from other people, Carnethon says.

After attending a festival, it's wise to monitor for symptoms of Covid 10-14 days following, Carnethon says. Typically, surges occur two weeks following an event. With any event, it's difficult to attribute an uptick in cases to the actual gathering, or if it's indicative of a broader trend.

"We're all a little bit unsure what Lollapalooza will do with regards to being a potential major Covid spreader event," Parada says.

If there's someone in your household who you know is vulnerable, like your children or an elderly person, you should quarantine from those people if you've gone to a mega-event like a music festival, Bershteyn says.

"You should absolutely quarantine from those people if you're aware that there were cases at that event."

Lollapalooza and Verknipt did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.

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These Photos Show The Enormous Turnout For Lollapalooza Despite Delta Concerns

BuzzFeed News 03 August, 2021 - 07:50pm

This proud mom is standing up for a controversial parenting practice. During an interview with Us Weekly, Coco Austin defended breastfeeding her five-year-old daughter. Austin shares daughter Chanel with her husband of 19 years, actor and rapper Ice-T. Continuing to breastfeed her child past an age some people deem unacceptable is something that Austin is passionate about and has spoken out about in the past. Read on to see what she had to say about her decision in this new interview and to hear why breastfeeding means so much to her.

Read the original article on Best Life.

Us Weekly interviewed Austin in a video about her parenting dos and don'ts. When she was asked about breastfeeding past the "proper age" of around two years old, she said, "I never understood that. You want to know something? Chanel still likes my boob and she's five years old … It's a big bonding moment for a mother and her child. A lot of people are like, 'Oh, you're not getting the nutrition after two years old. Why do it?' And I'm like, my child's eating steak and hamburgers, she just likes a little snack every now and then and more of the bonding between the mother. Why take that away from her?"

Austin also noted that breastfeeding helps Chanel sleep: "It's not like she's getting a meal from it, but she's getting her little snack and it's soothing her to sleep." Chanel even spoke up about it herself in the video. "You know what?" she said, suddenly arriving on her mom's lap. "Boo boo makes me sleep."

LOS ANGELES - OCT 26: Coco Austin at the Paley Center's Hollywood Tribute to African-Americans in TV at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on October 26, 2015 in Beverly Hills, CA

Austin pointed out that if she lived outside of society, she would still want to feed her child, so she keeps that mindset and doesn't change her behavior based on what other people think. "I don't want to deprive her of something she wants just because society says she needs to stop after two," Austin said.

She also said that the U.S. is not the same as everywhere else. "Europeans, they stop around seven years old," the former Ice Loves Coco star said. "They kind of go when the child doesn't feel the need to do it anymore, and that's how I feel."

Breastfeeding rates in Europe differ greatly from country to country. For example, Ireland has a particularly low percentage of babies who are ever breastfed, while Sweden has a particularly high one, according to a 2018 report from UNICEF.

Austin has posted about breastfeeding on Instagram multiple times. In 2020, she shared a photo of Chanel breastfeeding and wrote, "I've been getting a lot of props in the breastfeeding community and get tons of emails from woman/moms appreciating me bringing light to the subject." She added, "At this point in nursing its just for comfort and believe me the girl loves meat so its not like she isn't eating real food…Thank you to all that understand my view."

As reported by Us Weekly, Austin also responded to a commenter who asked what would happen if Chanel still wanted to breastfeed at age 12. "I think she will stop before then," she wrote. "Europeans ween around 7."

When Austin spoke to Us Weekly about breastfeeding in an interview in 2019, her husband also shared his thoughts on the topic. "What I think confuses people is they [see pictures] and they think Chanel doesn't eat food," the Law & Order: SVU star said. "And she eats cheeseburgers. She only breast-feeds … like, when she cries [and] she just wants to get close to her mama. She throws the boob out and … holds on. She's not doing it for nourishment. This chick eats chili fries, OK?"

In the video, Austin points out that she and Ice-T are not "a traditional married couple." So, when it comes to things like Chanel's bedtime or where she sleeps, not all parents would agree with their choices. Because Austin and Ice-T are part of the "night entertainment world," Chanel is sometimes up late with them and sleeps in until 11 a.m. "Of course, that's going to change this year because she's going to start school," Austin said, to which Chanel responded, "I always wanted to go to school!"

Austin also shared that Chanel frequently sleeps in her and her husband's bed. "We call our bed our family bed," she said. "We have Chanel and all four dogs."

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Crews Begin Cleanup Of Grant Park After Lollapalooza

CBS Chicago 03 August, 2021 - 07:50pm

Black Pumas - Colors (Live at Lollapalooza 2021)

Black Pumas 03 August, 2021 - 07:50pm

Dr. Arwady Went Undercover at Lollapalooza. Here's What She Says She Saw

NBC Chicago 03 August, 2021 - 05:29pm

Chicago's top doctor said she went undercover at Lollapalooza last weekend to see how the festival was enforcing COVID-19 precautions and administering vaccines.

"I actually went through those gates multiple times not known," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "Like I put a hat on. I put glasses on. I put a mask on."

Arwady explained she disguised her appearance because she wanted to go through the line similar to any other concert-goer and experience how the staff checked vaccination proof.

Rather than bringing the official COVID vaccination card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arwady said she brought a print-out from I-CARE, which was an accepted document.

"I was really pleased," Arwady said. "These pepole didn't know who I was. I was in the middle of a big crowd of other kids coming in. They stopped, they looked."

As she walked through the check-in at the gate, Arwady noted that security looked through her document and checked to make sure she had two COVID vaccine shots and from which dates.

"We saw a lot of people getting turned away if they didn't come with anything," Arwady said. "But also if the dates weren't good."

Vaccine ambassadors for Chicago were on site, Arwady added, who provided information and signed people up for at-home appointments. Those city workers tracked data, along with Lollapalooza, and found that 90% of attendees showed proof of vaccination.

"Most music festivals across the U.S., really big ones even, are not having a testing or vaccination requirement," Arwady said. "I don't think that is wise with the increase in the delta variant."

Due to the recent uptick in cases across Chicago, Lollapalooza organizers announced a mask requirement for any indoor areas on Saturday and Sunday of the festival.

Lollapalooza will took place at full capacity this past weekend, with attendees required to either be fully vaccinated against COVID or to have proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event.

One Chicago infectious diseases expert warned within the week prior that "lots of people" would contract COVID-19 at Lollapalooza this weekend, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot dismissed criticisms as coming from "critics on the sidelines."

“I think a lot of people are going to get COVID at Lollapalooza,” Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said. “The real problem is not so much that a bunch of young people who come into Chicago getting COVID at this event. The real problem is them taking it back to places that have very low vaccination rates.

Lightfoot disagreed with Landon’s assessment of the situation, calling the physician a “critic standing on the sideline” and saying that she trusts the medical team put together by the city and festival organizers.

“God bless the critics standing on the sidelines, but I feel confident that the Lolla folks have a good, solid plan in place, and we’re obviously going to hold them accountable to make sure that the plan is enforced,” she said.

Arwady noted Tuesday that she does expect to see more COVID cases originate from Lollapalooza, but doesn't think Chicago will be enacting harsher mitigations based on current data.

Lightfoot: No regrets on Lollapalooza or concerns it will become super-spreader event

Chicago Sun-Times 03 August, 2021 - 12:45pm

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she doesn’t fear a surge of coronavirus cases tied to Lollapalooza, in part because her public health commissioner “went incognito” to the music festival without valid proof of vaccination and was turned away.

During a live interview on WVON-AM (1690), Lightfoot said she is “well aware” of a video appearing to show young people being “waved through” the Lollapalooza gates by people who were supposed to be checking vaccination cards, but “weren’t even looking at” those credentials.

But the mayor offered a possible explanation. Once attendees were screened and showed credentials proving they’d been vaccinated, they were issued a wristband. So the video could have been people with wristbands being waved through, Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said her confidence about the safety of Lollapalooza stems from the city’s vigilance in holding event organizers to their promised protocols and testing that system to make certain they did.

Attendees were required to either show their own vaccination card — and a valid ID proving they were the person whose name is on the card — or proof that they had tested negative for the coronavirus no more than 72 hours before the concert.

“We checked with them every single day, multiple times a day. We had our people at the screening checkpoints. And I will tell you Dr. [Allison] Arwady, the public health commissioner, kind of went a little bit incognito, didn’t have all her paperwork right and they wouldn’t let her in,” the mayor told WVON talk show host Perry Small.

“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.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker talked about going to Lolla with his wife and friends, but canceled at the last minute, citing the highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Lightfoot, on the other hand, appeared onstage the first night, thanking attendees for “vaxxing up and masking up.” The mayor said she “went there myself to eyeball the screening” and make certain the city had public health officials at every checkpoint “to make sure they weren’t just letting people through and going through the motions.”

“Can I tell you that the system worked perfectly? No, I can’t. But every single day, we had people there looking at it, asking questions and making sure that the screening was real and meaningful. They were telling us 90% plus every day” had shown proof of vaccination, Lightfoot said.

University of Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Emily Landon had argued that during a surge in cases tied to the Delta variant it was a “bad idea” for Lightfoot to allow hundreds of thousands of young people to jam together in front of multiple stages in Grant Park.

But Tuesday, Lightfoot said she has “no regrets” about green-lighting the festival, a major money-maker for Chicago that filled hotels and restaurants.

Two days after it ended, the mayor remains confident Chicago’s premier music festival — the largest of its kind in the world this year — will not turn out to be a “super-spreader” event. She argued just the opposite.

“We worked with the Lollapalooza people ahead of time to incentivize people to get vaccinated,” Lightfoot said.

“So I’m confident that thousands of people — mostly young people, which is our toughest demographic — got vaccinated simply because they wanted to go to Lollapalooza.”

Lightfoot said the decision to she made last spring to green-light Lollapalooza was “based upon on data and modeling that showed a modest uptick” in the Delta variant.

“The Delta variant has been with us for quite a long time. This is not news. The media is now latching upon it, mostly because it’s attacking people who are unvaccinated. And what we’re also seeing is, people who have been on the fence or saying, ‘No. Not me,’ actually coming off the fence and saying, ‘This Delta variant scares me. I’m getting vaccinated,’” the mayor said.

Lightfoot said she doesn’t want to “force people to get a vaccine” or use “scare tactics.”

But, she added: “The data is real and the data is scary. ... 97% of the people that are dying in Chicago are people that are unvaccinated. If that doesn’t give you an incentive to educate yourself and get off the wall and get vaccinated, I don’t know what else can.”

New York City is phasing in a requirement that residents show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations before entering a bar, restaurant or gym.

Lightfoot is hesitant to go there. She noted some Chicago restaurants and bars already deny entry to customers without proof of vaccination.

“That’s only going to spread,” she said, in part because customers are saying, “If you’re not vaccinated, I don’t want to be near you.”

But Chicago is nowhere near another shutdown.

“We’re seeing a modest uptick in [intensive care patients] and hospitalizations, but not to the point where we’re worried about our health care system buckling,” she said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticized for attending Lollapalooza

Daily Mail 02 August, 2021 - 06:57am

The mayor of Chicago is facing criticism for attending the 'super-spreader' four-day Lollapalooza music festival, despite threatening to introduce a new lockdown if Covid-19 cases rise following the event.  

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was also slammed for going ahead with the festival after an infectious disease expert warned 'lots of people' would contract the virus.  

Lollapalooza saw an estimated 100,000 attending the four-day event daily for the 30th anniversary celebrations in Chicago's Grant Park. 

Concert-goers had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from 72 hours prior, and on the opening day - Thursday - Lollapalooza officials said that over 90 percent of attendees presented proof of a vaccination. 

Around 600 people were not allowed to enter the festival due to lack of paperwork, organizers said.

Lightfoot appeared on the music stage and told the huge - largely maskless - crowd: 'Thank you for masking up and vaxing up.' 

Many criticised the Chicago mayor for not only approving the 'super-spreader event' but also for attending the festival and appearing backstage without a face mask on while taking pictures with celebrities. 

But Kate Le Furgy, the Director of Communications for the Chicago Mayor's office, defended Lightfoot and said she was outside while not wearing a face mask and was fully vaccinated.  

'Will @chicagosmayor Lightfoot be blamed for approving a #COVID19 super-spreader event this weekend -- @lollapalooza, three days of music euphoria with a huge, mask-less crowd?' journalist Laurie Garrett tweeted.

Retired Department of Defense operative Tony Shaffer said: 'Wow - COVID is the most intelligent virus ever in history - it will wait for @LoriLightfoot to get the City of Chicago all sorts of tax revenue before it becomes super dangerous and transmissible!'

Reporter Julio Rausseo commented on Lightfoot's apparent hypocrisy tweeting 'According to @klefurgy, it's not a big deal since @chicagosmayor is backstage @lollapalooza. What's odd is, the mayor is masked outdoors with the general public but not with the boujie celebrities.' 

It comes after Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medical Center, told NBC Chicago: 'I think a lot of people are going to get COVID at Lollapalooza.

'The real problem is not so much that a bunch of young people who come into Chicago getting COVID at this event. The real problem is them taking it back to places that have very low vaccination rates.'

Lightfoot has previously threatened to introduce strict lockdown measures if the daily case rate rises above 200. 

She told The New York Times: 'Well, look, if we get back into an area where we feel like we're in a red zone, which we are working very hard to make sure that our daily case rate is below 200, if we start to see consistently going over that, we're not only going to look at a mask mandate, but we're going to look back at other tools that we've been compelled to use. I hope we don't get there. 

'What we're going to keep focusing on is pushing the vaccine. But my number one priority is to keep people safe.' 

The FBI has been warning that faking a vaccine crime is a federal crime, punishable by a $5,000 fine or five years in prison. 

A sign outside the entrance reads: 'We have taken enhanced health and safety measures for you, our artists and employees. 

'You must follow all posted instructions while attending Lollapalooza. 

'An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public space where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. 

'By attending Lollapalooza, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. 

'Please help keep each other healthy!' 

The number of new cases reported daily in Chicago had dropped to as low as 34 in late June, but is now back up to 192 - although hospitalizations remain drastically lower than their peak this spring.  

The Illinois state health department reports that 58.6 percent of residents over 18 are fully vaccinated, and 74.3 percent have had their first shot.

Chicago is slightly lower than the state average, with 51.7 percent of their 2.7 million people fully vaccinated.

Of the six million fully-vaccinated people in the state, 644 have been hospitalized with 'breakthrough' infections, and 169 have died. 

The festival kicked off on Thursday, with Miley Cyrus headlining and a surprise guest appearance from Billy Idol.

Friday saw Tyler, The Creator take top billing, while Saturday belonged to Post Malone, Journey, Megan Thee Stallion and Limp Bizkit.

Sunday will close with Foo Fighters.   

Cook County was added on Thursday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of areas experiencing 'substantial' COVID-19 transmission, bringing with it advisories for masks indoors. 

The festival announced late Friday that masks will be required in any indoor spaces on the grounds beginning Saturday.

'We encourage all fans attending the festival to bring a mask as they attend the final two days of the festival,' according to an announcement from festival producer C3 Presents.

Health officials said they did expect there to be an increase in COVID cases. 

'When you're having this many folks who are coming through almost certainly there will be some cases,' said Dr Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

She told CNBC: 'But I'm confident that the combination of what we know about limiting risk in outdoor settings, pairing that with vaccination and or testing and ideally mostly vaccination, which is what we expect, as well as all the other mitigation factors.'

Some felt the event was a bad idea, pointing out that recent music festivals, including the Verknipt festival in Utrecht, Netherlands, and Rolling Loud in Miami, have been connected to outbreaks among their attendees and surrounding communities.

Dr Emily Landon, the executive medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medicine, said last Monday in an interview with NBC-5 Chicago that she thought the festival should have been cancelled. 

'I think continuing to have Lolla at that level of capacity was a bad idea even before there was a pandemic, and I'm shocked that we've agreed to go back to that same level of capacity, ' she said. 

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