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.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot 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
Lollapalooza saw an estimated 100,000 attending the four-day event daily for the 30th anniversary celebrations in Chicago’s Grant Park
The Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, pictured on Saturday, has drawn crowds of 100,000 people every day. Attendees are asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at the entrance, but health officials still fear a surge in cases in the coming weeks as a result of the gathering
Tripple Redd performs on stage on Saturday. The third day of the festival was headlined by Megan Thee Stallion, Journey and Limp Bizkit
‘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.
Only 51.7 per cent of Chicago’s residents are fully vaccinated – although on Thursday, organizers said, 90 per cent of those attending provided their vaccination certificates. The other 10 per cent showed negative COVID tests
Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit is seen on stage on Saturday – one of the headliners for the third day
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.’
Megan Thee Stallion performs in concert during day three of the 30th anniversary of Lollapalooza
The concert in Grant Park is one of the biggest since the pandemic began, with 100,000 people every day
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.