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Lollapalooza not ‘superspreader’ event, says city’s top public health official

So far, 203 people who attended have tested positive for COVID-19, Dr. Allison Arwady said.

Fans cheer as Post Malone performs on day three of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Saturday evening, July 31, 2021.
Fans cheer as Post Malone performs on day three of Lollapalooza in Grant Park on July 31.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Some two weeks after the opening day of Lollapalooza, the music festival shows no signs of having been a “superspreader event,” the city’s top public health official said Thursday.

Of the approximately 385,000 people who attended, 203 attendees have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said Thursday during a news conference at City Hall. As of Wednesday, none of those who tested positive have had to be hospitalized or have died, Arwady said.

“The bottom line is we’ve not seen anything that has surprised us related to the Lollapalooza outbreak,” Arwady said.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Of the 203 cases, 127 were among vaccinated attendees and 76 were among unvaccinated attendees, Arwady said. That translates to about four in 10,000 among the vaccinated and 16 in 10,000 for those who were unvaccinated, Arwady said.

Health officials have estimated about 90% of those who attended the four-day event in Grant Park were vaccinated. To get inside, concert-goers had to show proof of being vaccinated or having tested negative for the coronavirus within the previous three days.

“We obviously will continue to do further investigation if necessary. … Any person diagnosed with COVID-19 on or after attending Lollapalooza is included in the analysis,” Arway said. “So these cases may or may not have resulted from transmission at Lolla itself. We’ve been very broad here. Anybody who is potentially associated, we want to investigate.”

Fifty-eight of the cases are Chicago residents, she said; of those, 13 people reported attending Lollapalooza on or after their symptoms began, Arwady said.

“This is a really important reminder that we need everybody in Chicago not to ignore symptoms, assume it’s a summer cold, regardless of your vaccination status because we know the vaccines aren’t 100% protective,” she said.

In the days leading up to Lollapolooza — despite a spike in cases caused by the delta variant — Arwady said she was comfortable with the event going ahead as planned because of the precautions organizers were taking, including air ventilation for any indoor spaces and making sure backstage workers were vaccinated.

Arwady said Thursday that despite the prevalence of the Delta variant, Chicago isn’t seeing the kind of surge that some Southern states are experiencing.

“If we were in New Orleans, ... I don’t think we would have been able to move ahead with this event,” she said.

Contributing: AP