Lollapalooza not a COVID-19 'superspreader', Chicago's top doc says

Chicago's top doctor says Lollapalooza was not the COVID-19 superspreader that some people feared it might be.

Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday that while there were positive cases related to attendance of the music festival which took place in Grant Park two weeks ago, it appears the strict requirements for attendance did their job.

"There have been no unexpected findings at this point and NO evidence at this point of 'super-spreader' event or substantial impact to Chicago's COVID-19 epidemiology," Arwady said in a tweet.


There were a total of 203 identified cases of COVID-19 in relation to attendance of Lollapalooza, according to Arwady. Of those, health officials traced 58 cases from Chicago, 138 were non-Chicago residents and seven were from out of state.

Arwady said that 0.0004% of vaccinated attendees and 0.0016% of unvaccinated attendees reported testing positive. There have been no hospitalizations or deaths linked to the festival. 

Arwady said the city’s health department interviewed people who tested positive for COVID-19 and conducted contact tracing for cases that seemed to be connected to the four day music festival which took place from July 29 to August 1.

Attendees were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to get in. Of the 385,000 attendees, about 90% were fully vaccinated, Arwady said.

Arwady added that the music festival also encouraged some attendees to get the vaccine.

"We saw younger attendees were more likely to say that attending Lollapalooza was an incentive for them to be vaccinated," she said.


There were the usual fence-jumpers who snuck past security. Social-distancing was not always observed. But overall, Lollapalooza was no more dangerous to public health than gathering in other high risk exposure places like bars or traveling.

Chicago is continuing to hold smaller music festivals this summer, and Arwady added that music fests in other areas of the country, such as Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Summerfest in Wisconsin, are following Lollapalooza’s lead on requiring vaccines or negative virus tests.


"We want to stay open as a city, but staying open also means being careful, it means, first and foremost, getting vaccinated. It means getting tested if you have any COVID symptoms, and for now wearing a mask and indoor public places," Arwady said.

Health officials continue to investigate cases of COVID-19 in relation to the music festival, according to Arwady.