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Unvaccinated People Who Went To Lolla Should Get Tested For COVID — But So Should Anyone Who Thinks They’re Sick, Chicago’s Doc Says

Chicago is now "in the timeframe" where people potentially exposed to the virus at Lollapalooza can get tested to get an accurate result, Dr. Allison Arwady said.

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CHICAGO — Unvaccinated people who went to Lollapalooza should get a coronavirus test — but so should anyone who thinks they have symptoms, according to the city’s health department.

The four-day music festival attracted more than 385,000 people, and it was the largest festival being held in the world this year, officials said. Many criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, for allowing it to happen, worried it could turn into a super-spreader event as COVID-19’s Delta variant surges in Chicago and across the country.

The officials have downplayed those concerns, saying Lolla took safety precautions and most attendees were vaccinated. But Arwady has repeatedly said it’s likely the festival will be associated with coronavirus cases.

And on Thursday, the city’s top doctor said unvaccinated people who went to the festival should get tested. But she said the same applies to any Chicagoan with symptoms of COVID-19.

“Anybody who has any symptoms that might be COVID — whether you went to Lolla or not, anybody in Chicago: If you’ve got a ‘summer cold,’ if you’re like, ‘I feel like I have the flu. That’s weird. I’m just not feeling well’ — please, please, please, please, please take a COVID test,” Arwady said. “Whether you’re vaccinated. Whether you’re not.”

The health department’s official guidance says unvaccinated people who go to large gatherings or are in crowded places should get tested, as should anyone who has symptoms or who has been in contact with someone recently ill with COVID-19.

The festival kicked off a week ago, which means Chicago is now “in the timeframe” where people potentially exposed to the virus can get tested to get an accurate result, Arwady said.

And the doctor said it’s not just people who went to the outdoor festival that should get tested, as there were related festivities held indoors, where COVID-19 is more transmissible.

“Obviously, we’re especially interested in this because it was a highly vaccinated event. … Our concern is much less about the actual event than it is some of the indoor gatherings that may have happened around it,” Arwady said. At another point, she said, “Anybody who has symptoms, if they attended Lolla, but even if they didn’t attend Lolla: Take a test.”

Testing has increased in Chicago in recent weeks, with the city seeing an average of 8,605 being done per day as of Thursday. That’s an 18 percent jump from the week prior.

Vaccinations have also increased as Delta has spread. An average of 4,096 doses are being administered per day in Chicago as of Thursday.

“Which is not surprising at all; that’s what we expect and what we see as cases increase” and folks get concerned about symptoms, Arwady said. “If you have symptoms that could be COVID — get tested.”

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