chicago covid update

Chicago's Top Doctor Gives COVID Update, Details Cases Tied to Lollapalooza

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Chicago's top doctor will give an update Thursday on the city's latest COVID-19 data, including details on cases tied to Lollapalooza.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady will hold the news conference at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.

Arwady will "provide an update on COVID-19 case data and vaccinations, including the tracking of cases associated with the Lollapalooza music festival, and discuss the City’s response to large gatherings," CDPH said in a statement. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

The update comes exactly two weeks after the four-day Lollapalooza music festival kicked off in the city's Grant Park.

Chicago's largest annual event - canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic - was allowed to return this year from July 29 to Aug. 1 at full capacity and with new health protocols.

But multiple infectious disease experts warned that Lollapalooza could lead to an increase in already rising metrics like COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

About 100,000 people attended the festival on each of the four days from Thursday to Sunday, organizers said Monday.

City officials billed it as the largest music festival happening in the world this year, with massive crowds and little to no social distancing or masking in the crowds at multiple performances.

To enter Lollapalooza, concert-goers were required to show a printed copy of their COVID vaccine card, vaccine record or negative coronavirus test results obtained within 72 hours of entering.

"Over the course of the weekend, Lollapalooza entry gates saw an average of 91% proof of vaccination, 8% proof of negative COVID-19 tests and 1% denied entry for lack of proper documentation," organizers said in a statement immediately after the festival.

For those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, a mask was required while inside the festival at all times. And in a tweet posted the Friday evening of the festival, Lollapalooza announced masks were required at any indoor spaces following a recommendation from Chicago city officials the day before, in line with new federal health guidance, that all residents over the age of 2 wear masks in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.

Some experts have expressed doubt whether mask requirements and social distancing would be followed and warned that the festival could cause case rates to rise even more.

“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 last month. “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."

“Lolla has let us down with respect to how vigorously they’re restricting people based on the things that they sort of initially told us (about how) ‘we’re going to be really strict’ and now it’s like they’ve lightened up quite considerably on checking vaccines and negative tests,” she added.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot dismissed the remarks from Landon - who has previously appeared alongside the mayor to deliver updates earlier in the pandemic - as coming from "critics standing on the sidelines."

Experts at Northwestern University also said they were bracing for a jump in infections.

"It’s a recipe for disaster,” Dr. Tina Tan, a pediatrician and professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a statement. "You have people coming in all over from U.S., and even though the organizers are taking some efforts to mitigate infections, I don’t know how they’re going to enforce mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing..."

Despite an uptick in cases fueled by the more transmissible delta variant, CDPH and Lollapalooza's own health experts decided it was safe to proceed with the festival, Lightfoot previously said.

Arwady's update on Thursday comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 364 per day - a 39% increase over the previous week.

That figure is also more than 10 times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing earlier this year and last, before vaccines were widely available.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are up 6% from last week while deaths are up 29%, per the city's data. The positivity rate in testing is up to 3.8% as of Thursday, an increase from 3.5% last week, which has risen each week since it was at 1% a month ago.

Contact Us