CHICAGO - Lollapalooza, the largest public event in the world so far this year, is very much underway in Chicago.
Some health experts admit holding the festival in the midst of a COVID-19 surge is not without risk, while others are flat out worried.
Numbers are already heading in the wrong direction as 100,000 people jam into Grant Park, shoulder to shoulder, for four straight days.
Dr. Shikha Jain says it is clearly cause for concern.
"A lot of young people who get infected may or may not know that they have it, so they may get COVID at Lolla, or they may get it at a party, or somewhere else and then they're spreading it," she said.
Earlier this month, an outdoor music festival in the Netherlands resulted in more than 1,000 COVID cases. Like Lolla, concertgoers were required to be vaccinated or show proof of a recent negative test. But unlike Lolla, the tests had to be performed within 40 hours of the festival.
"So there's a lot of concerns that one, we allowed 72 hours before with a negative test for Lollapalooza, two, most people are not wearing masks, and three, they're very close and going to be singing and screaming and enjoying themselves, but we know the delta variant much more contagious," Dr. Jain said. "There's a lot of concerns we're going to see significant spread from this event even though it's outside."
A consortium of researchers working with the CDC projected the nationwide surge will likely peak in mid-October. Dr. Jain does not disagree. She says the answer is simple: vaccinations!
"So if we're not able to get more people vaccinated, we can continue to see the surges," she said.