Harm Reduction in a Pandemic: Public Events and the COVID-19 Delta Variant

While over 47% of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated, Chicago is currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 due to newer variants.

The Delta variant spreads twice as fast as the previous Alpha variant, putting unvaccinated people in greater danger. Even fully vaccinated people are experiencing “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections. The vast majority of these infections cause mild illness, but they are a source of infection to others who are unvaccinated, such as children, or immunocompromised people (those with organ transplants, on dialysis, on chemotherapy, on immune suppressive medications, or those living with HIV with CD4 counts less than 200 cells/mm3).

Many summer events and gatherings will continue to be held and we understand that all of us are making different risk calculations as we navigate this evolving pandemic.  We feel it is important to meet people where they are and provide them with tools and interventions to protect themselves and those around them from the spread of COVID-19. Here are a few tips for staying safe if you plan to attend concerts, festivals, and other large events this summer:

Stay home if:

  • You are not fully vaccinated
  • You are experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, or fatigue. If you are having difficulty breathing and/or experiencing a fever of 103 F (39.4 C) or higher seek emergency medical care immediately. This list does not include all possible symptoms. Reach out to your medical provider if you are experiencing other concerning symptoms.

At the event:

  • Consider wearing a mask, particularly if local community transmission is high (>100 cases/100,000 people).  You can check you county case rates on the CDC website (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view)
  • Opt for well-ventilated or outdoor spaces. Strongly consider masking if indoors.
  • Stick with a buddy group of fully vaccinated folks and try to keep outside contacts to a minimum
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks

After the event (regardless of vaccination status):

  • Quarantine if able and closely monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Obtain a COVID-19 test five to seven days after event
  • Avoid contact with any family or friends who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised for at least seven days

Learn more about COVID-19 testing and vaccination at https://howardbrown.org/service/covid-19-services/


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