NORTHALSTED — People can get tested for and vaccinated against coronavirus this weekend at the Northalsted Market Days.
Market Days is partnering with Northshore Clinical Labs and Special Events Management to offer free coronavirus tests ahead of the festival and at its entrance gates, according to a statement. There also will be a vaccination booth inside the fest, which runs Friday-Sunday in Lakeview’s Northalsted neighborhood.
“In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID, we want to make testing and vaccinations available to all patrons for the safety of both attendees and staff alike,” said Hank Zemola, CEO of Special Events Management.
People can get tested for COVID-19 ahead of the festival by visiting the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. Free rapid testing will be available at the Market Days entrance gates.
Northshore Clinical Labs’ booth inside the festival will offer the Moderna vaccine, with second doses available at its laboratory at 4751 N. Kedzie Ave.
The free testing comes as Chicago’s positivity rate and average number of daily new cases have spiked in recent weeks and surges are being seen around the country.
Howard Brown Health, the city’s largest LGBTQ-affirming health care provider, called on the festival’s organizers last week to implement strict COVID-19 precautions, like capacity limits and mask requirements, or else cancel the event.
“The recent spikes in COVID-19 infections in neighboring states are alarming, and history shows Chicago will not be immune to a surge,” said David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown. “I’m especially concerned about communities on the South and West sides of the city, which have been impacted the most by the pandemic.
“Future lockdowns are assured unless we undertake mitigation strategies now.”
Market Days’ organizers have encouraged attendees to get vaccinated or wear a mask, but they said they won’t implement Howard Brown’s recommendations unless the city mandates them.
Lake Alen, acting executive director of the Northalsted Business Alliance, which organizes Market Days, said they will “follow all city guidelines for outdoor street fests,” which currently do not require face masks, capacity limits or vaccination requirements.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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