NORTHALSTED — Free COVID testing and vaccinations will be offered in Northalsted ahead of and during this weekend’s Pride Fest.
The Northalsted Business Alliance, which organizes the weekend street festival, is partnering with Northshore Clinical Labs to offer the free testing and vaccinations for anyone going to Chicago Pride Fest this Friday through Sunday.
Walk-in testing will be offered noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St.
Free rapid testing will also be available at the festival’s main gates with results in under 15 minutes, according to the business alliance. Northshore Clinical Labs will also have a booth inside the festival where people can get their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, according to the Northalsted Business Alliance.
Second doses will be available later at the Northshore laboratory at 4751 N. Kedzie Ave.
The Northalsted Business Alliance is following the same COVID-19 protocols that were in place for the Northalsted Market Days festival, held in August. Attendees are encouraged to be fully vaccinated or wear a mask, while most indoor establishments will require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test for entry.
Howard Brown Health, the city’s largest LGBTQ-affirming health care provider, previously criticized the COVID protocols in place for Market Days and pushed organizers to implement stricter precautions — like capacity limits and mask requirements — or cancel the festival.
Market Days went on, following guidance from the Chicago Department of Public Health, which does not require capacity limits, social distancing, outdoor masking or proof of vaccination for street festivals.
Some coronavirus cases were linked to the festival, but Market Days organizers worked with the department to investigate and identify any cases.
David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown, said he “applauds the Northalsted Business Alliance for working closely with [the Chicago Department of Public Health] on pandemic mitigation strategies” for the upcoming Pride Fest.
“Following the same playbook will help ensure Pride Fest lowers the risk of COVID transmission for all its attendees,” Munar said.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.