As questions linger about whether Lollapalooza should return this summer following a rise in COVID-19 cases, the music festival - Chicago's largest - has extended the window in which concert-goes can undergo a COVID test.
As announced earlier this year, event organizers said a full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results within 24 hours before attending the festival would be required for admission. But according to the Lollapalooza website, as of Monday, event attendees had to receive a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of attending the event, not 24. However, it's unclear when exactly the testing window expanded.
Voicing concerns about the event taking place amid a surge in cases, Dr. Emily Landon, widely regarded as one of Chicago's top coronavirus experts, said the 72-hour parameter is too lenient, and that the city is risking a massive spike in cases by allowing the event to move forward as planned.
“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 said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top doctor haven't wavered in their support of the event despite the climbing case numbers and an uptick in hospitalizations.
"...We want people to have a good time and we want this to be as safe as it can be," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a coronavirus update last week. "And so certainly we'll be watching that just as we do any other gathering, but I am more concerned about the many people who have not chosen the COVID vaccine."
Chicago's average daily number of new cases rose to 130 per day early Monday - a 76% jump compared to last week.
The city's average daily case rate was at 90 per day last week and 41 per day the week before that, meaning it's more than tripled in roughly three weeks. However, it is still significantly 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 19% from last week, though deaths are down 43%, while the positivity rate in testing is up to 2.2% as of Monday, up from 1.5% last week and 1% the week before.