The mayor of Chicago has been criticized for attending the four-day music festival Lollapalooza, despite threatening a new lockdown if more cases of Covid-19 emerge after the event.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was also criticized for going ahead with the festival after an infectious disease expert warned “many people” would contract the virus.
Lollapalooza saw an estimated 100,000 attendees daily at the four-day 30-year anniversary event in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Concert-goers were required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours earlier, and on opening day — Thursday — Lollapalooza officials said more than 90 percent of those in attendance presented proof of a vaccination.
About 600 people were not allowed to enter the festival due to lack of paperwork, organizers said.
Lightfoot appeared on the music stage and said to the huge – largely maskless – crowd, “Thanks for masking and vaxing.”
Many criticized the mayor of Chicago for not only approving the “super-spreader event,” but also for attending the festival and appearing backstage without a face mask while taking photos with celebrities.
But Kate Le Furgy, the communications director for the Chicago mayor’s office, defended Lightfoot, saying she was out without a facemask and had been fully vaccinated.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces criticism for attending four-day Lollapalooza music festival, despite threatening a new lockdown if Covid-19 cases rise after the event
Lollapalooza saw an estimated 100,000 attendees daily at the four-day 30th anniversary celebration event at Chicago’s Grant Park
Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival, pictured Saturday, draws 100,000 people daily. Attendees are asked to show a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test at the entrance, but health officials still fear an increase in the number of cases due to the meeting in the coming weeks
Tripple Redd takes the podium on Saturday. The third day of the festival was all about Megan Thee Stallion, Journey and Limp Bizkit
“Will @chicagosmayor Lightfoot be blamed for endorsing a #COVID19 super-spreading event this weekend — @lollapalooza, three days of music euphoria with a huge, maskless audience?” journalist Laurie Garrett tweeted.
Tony Shaffer, retired Department of Defense employee, said: ‘Wow – COVID is the most intelligent virus ever in history – it will wait for @LoriLightfoot to bring in all sorts of tax revenue for the city of Chicago before it gets super dangerous and transmissible!’
Reporter Julio Rausseo commented on Lightfoot’s apparent hypocrisy tweeting “According to @klefurgy it’s no big deal since @chicagosmayor is backstage @lollapalooza. The strange thing is that the mayor is masked outdoors from the general public, but not from the boujie celebrities.”
It comes after Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said: NBC Chicago: ‘I think a lot of people are going to get COVID at Lollapalooza.
“The real problem isn’t so much that a bunch of young people coming into Chicago at this event will get COVID. The real problem is they’re bringing it back to places with very low vaccination coverage.”
Lightfoot has previously threatened strict lockdown measures if the daily number of cases exceeds 200.
She said The New York Times: “Well, look, if we go back to an area where we feel like we’re in a red zone, we’re working really hard to make sure our daily case count is below 200, when we start to see that we’re going to be consistent about the dat, we’re not just going to look at a mask mandate, but we’re going to look back at other tools that we had to use. I hope we don’t get there.
“What we continue to focus on is pushing the vaccine. But my number one priority is to keep people safe.”
The FBI has warned that falsifying a vaccine crime is a federal crime, punishable by a $5,000 fine or five years in prison.
Only 51.7 percent of Chicago residents have been fully vaccinated, although on Thursday, organizers said 90 percent of those in attendance had presented their vaccination certificate. The remaining 10 percent showed negative COVID tests
Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit takes the stage on Saturday – one of the headliners for the third day
A sign outside the entrance reads: ‘We have tightened health and safety measures for you, our artists and staff.
You must follow all posted instructions while attending Lollapalooza.
“There is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any public space where people are present. COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that can lead to serious illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
“By attending Lollapalooza, you are voluntarily taking all risks associated with exposure to COVID-19.
“Please help keep each other healthy!”
The number of new cases reported daily in Chicago had fallen to 34 by the end of June, but is now back at 192 — although hospitalizations remain drastically below their peak this spring.
The Illinois State Health Department reports that 58.6 percent of residents over the age of 18 have been fully vaccinated and 74.3 percent have had their first injection.
Chicago is slightly below 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 as headliner and a surprise guest appearance from Billy Idol.
Friday saw Tyler, The Creator top billing, while Saturday belonged to Post Malone, Journey, Megan Thee Stallion and Limp Bizkit.
Sunday ends with Foo Fighters.
Cook County was added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of areas with “substantial” COVID-19 transmission on Thursday, with recommendations for indoor masks.
The festival announced at the end of Friday that masks will be mandatory in all indoor areas on the site from Saturday.
“We encourage all fans attending the festival to bring a mask if they attend the last two days of the festival,” said an announcement from festival producer C3 Presents.
Health officials said they expected an increase in COVID cases.
“When you have that many people coming by, there will almost certainly be cases,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health.
She told CNBC, “But I’m convinced that the combination of what we know about mitigating risks in outdoor environments, combined with vaccination and/or testing and ideally especially vaccination, is what we expect, as well as all the other mitigating factors.”
Megan Thee Stallion Performs On Day Three Of Lollapalooza’s 30th Anniversary
The concert in Grant Park is one of the largest since the start of the pandemic, drawing 100,000 people a day
Some thought 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 linked to outbreaks among their visitors and surrounding communities.
dr. Emily Landon, the executive medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medicine, said in an interview with NBC-5 Chicago last Monday that she felt the festival should have been canceled.
“I think it was a bad idea to keep Lolla at that capacity level even before there was a pandemic, and I’m shocked that we agreed to go back to the same capacity level,” she said.