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Chicago health official says there’s no evidence Lollapalooza was a super-spreader event

Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner gives a breakdown.

Tyler, The Creator Barry Brecheisen / Getty Images

When music festivals began unfolding amid surging COVID-19 rates, plenty of people feared those events would help spread the virus. Apparently, though, that wasn’t the case for this year’s Lollapalooza festival.

On Thursday (Aug. 12), Dr. Allison Arwady, who operates as Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner, posted a series of tweets about efforts to investigate COVID-19 cases in the city. She found that, despite fears to the contrary, Lollapalooza was not a “super-spreader” event.

“We are now 14 days past the first day of Lolla and we are continuing to investigate cases of COVID,” Arwady wrote in one tweet. “There have been no unexpected findings at this point and NO evidence at this point of ‘super-spreader’ event or substantial impact to Chicago’s COVID-19 epidemiology.”

According to Arwady, 90% of the 385,000 people who attended this year’s festival were vaccinated. Of the number of attendees, 203 had COVID-19 cases “identified” with going to the festival. Arwady is using these results to make the point that, despite some skepticism many people have, the vaccine is effective.

“CORRECTION: 0.04% (4 in 10,000) of vaccinated attendees have reported testing positive,” she wrote in another tweet. “0.16% (16 in 10,000) of unvaccinated attendees have reported testing positive. Long story short, the message doesn’t change: the vaccine is working.”

The surge of COVID-19 rates has largely been attributed to the new Delta strain of the virus. Speaking on the matter of the increased rates last month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the U.S. was at a pivotal moment for trying to deal with the virus.

“The Delta variant is spreading with incredible efficiency and now represents more than 83 percent of the virus circulating in the United States,” Dr. Walensky said. “Compared to the virus we had circulating initially in the United States at the start of the pandemic, the Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains. It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of and that I have seen in my 20-year career.”

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