Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday that he plans to attend Lollapalooza, Chicago's largest music festival, next weekend, saying it is "safe" for those vaccinated against COVID-19.
"I intend to go to Lollapalooza. I'm bringing my wife and a few friends to Lollapalooza," Pritzker said in a press conference Thursday.
He continued, saying outdoor festivals are known to be safer than those indoors in terms of spreading COVID-19, but that he still recommends people wear a mask if with a large group.
"If you feel comfortable and you can put a little distance between yourself and other people and if you're vaccinated, I might add, it's safer," Pritzker said. "Little distance and vaccinated, it's safe for you to attend something like this."
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The comments come days after Pritzker warned that stricter mitigations could return for areas seeing a rise in COVID cases.
"I believe strongly that we will impose mitigations as it's appropriate, where it's appropriate," Pritzker said in a one-on-one interview with NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern Tuesday.
Calling on anyone who is unvaccinated to get vaccinated, Pritzker said the state continues to monitor COVID metrics like positivity rate, case numbers and hospitalizations.
"It is always a difficult thing for me," he said. "I wake up every morning and I look at those numbers and when they're rising, you know, that's a bad day, and I want to do whatever I can to mitigate that. So that's included making sure testing is widely available, making sure that the vaccines are widely available, and I'll continue to do that and if we need to take stricter mitigations we will."
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike noted last week that the growing delta variant has a higher transmissibility that impacts more people at a time than previous variants. Within weeks, Ezike said Illinois has seen COVID cases double statewide.
As the delta variant continues to spread, experts are continuing to push for more Americans to get the COVID vaccine. All three of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA, have shown to be largely effective against preventing serious illness and death due to COVID, and all three companies say that their vaccines are showing promise in preventing those outcomes with the delta variant as well.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was "sounding the alarm" Tuesday due to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases across the city, warning of the potential for returning mitigations if the trend continues.
"If we allow the virus to continue to linger here in Chicago we will likely see further mutations, some of which our current vaccines may not be able to protect against and have to reinforce some of the restrictions that have come to infamously define much of 2020, and part of 2021," Lightfoot said during a coronavirus update alongside city health officials. "The reality is this scenario - the worst case - is entirely preventable, and that's because we have three different vaccines readily available to all of our residents, which offer very good protection against delta, and other new variants."
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that the she expects the delta variant will be the dominant form of COVID in Chicago by next month "for sure."
"I know a lot of you have hoped that COVID was behind us that you wouldn't see us up here talking again about numbers rising, you wouldn't hear that the positivity is back on the increase, that you wouldn't be hearing more updates the travel advisory, but unfortunately that's not the situation that we're in," Arwady said.
Illinois officials say they plan to continue urging vaccinations in hopes of keeping the numbers from reaching even higher.
"For anybody listening who isn't vaccinated, please get vaccinated," Pritzker said. "It will save your life."