Howard Brown Health, the most recognizable healthcare provider to the Chicago LGBTQ community, on Wednesday issued a statement encouraging event producers and local business owners to implement strict COVID-19 safety measures.
The request comes in anticipation of a spike in hospitalizations and severe infections from COVID-19 variants ahead of major summer events, including Market Days, Aug. 6-8, and the Chicago Pride Parade, Oct. 3.
“The recent spikes in COVID-19 infections in neighboring states are alarming, and history shows Chicago will not be immune to a surge. I'm especially concerned about communities on the South and West Sides of the city which have been impacted the most by the pandemic,” said David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health. “Events on the North Side inevitably impact all parts of the city. Future lockdowns are assured unless we undertake mitigation strategies now.”
To help ensure public safety, Howard Brown recommends businesses and event producers: implement capacity limits, adhere to strict social distancing enforcement measures, re-implement mask requirements and require COVID-19 vaccine verification.
“The pandemic is far from over, and Chicago businesses need to act now to prevent further spikes in severe COVID-19 disease that can lead to hospitalizations or death,” said Cathy Creticos, MD, Director of Infectious Diseases at Howard Brown Health.
If event producers are unable to implement strict safety precautions, Howard Brown recommends the events be cancelled or rescheduled in the interest of public safety.
Market Days event management provided the following statement to GoPride.com:
"Northalsted Market Days will be following city guidelines regarding outdoor street festivals; we strongly encourage all attendees to be vaccinated or wear a mask to keep our community safe. Proof of vaccination may be required for entry to some venues in Chicago."
On Tuesday, Howard Brown Health issued a memo to employees, volunteers, and other stakeholders that it will not participate in upcoming summer festivals, including Market Days, the Bud Billiken Parade, and Chicago Pride Parade, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
"Howard Brown's leadership met with infectious disease professionals and decided it was best not to participate in any group events for the rest of the year," Howard Brown Health said in its memo
. "This decision was made due to the rise in COVID cases across the country."
Average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 165 per day as of Tuesday, a 76 percent increase over the last week.
Hospitalizations in Chicago are up 5 percent from last week, while deaths are down. The positivity rate in testing is up to 2.6 percent as of Tuesday, up from 1.5 percent last week and 1 percent from the week before.
Despite concerns from city and health officials, Lollapalooza, one of the largest music festivals in America, is expected to go on as planned this week.
To enter Lollapalooza, concert-goers must provide a printed copy of the official COVID-19 vaccination card, an alternative vaccine record, or negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of entering the Grant Park
For those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, a mask is required at all times while inside the festival.
Howard Brown Health continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccines. People are urged to call (733) 388-1700 for information and to make an appointment.