Howard Brown Health Calls on Chicago Pride Parade, Market Days Event Producers to Implement Strict COVID-19 Safety Procedures
The Health Center Emphasizes a Renewed Focus on Safety Measures and Precautions Ahead of Major Summer LGBTQ Events
(Chicago, IL, July 28, 2021) – Howard Brown Health, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ healthcare organization, is imploring local businesses and public event producers to implement strict COVID-19 safety and prevention measures as the number of virus cases increase.
Howard Brown is issuing the request in anticipation of a spike in hospitalizations and severe infections from COVID-19 variants and ahead of major summer events expected to attract visitors from across the country, such as 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 reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections for Howard Brown Health staff, patients, and supporters, Howard Brown is withdrawing participation from all public events. Instead, it is moving Howard Brown-sponsored, in-person events to virtual platforms for the foreseeable future. This includes Market Days, the Bud Billiken Parade, the Chicago Pride Parade, and Howard Brown’s popular Halloween fundraiser event, the Big Orange Ball.
“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.
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
- Require COVID-19 vaccine verification
Newer variants of COVID-19 are more easily spread and are affecting more younger people. The Delta variant in particular is spreading 50 percent faster than the previous Alpha variant, leaving the unvaccinated particularly vulnerable. Additionally, even fully vaccinated people are experiencing “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections. While the vast majority of those infections cause milder illness, those people can still be a source of infection to others who are unvaccinated (including children) and those who have had an inadequate response to the vaccine (people with transplants, on dialysis, on chemotherapy, or on immune suppressive medications).
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.
As of July 26, only 51.8 percent of Chicago residents have been fully vaccinated, well below the threshold to reach community/herd immunity, while the highly transmissible Delta variant now accounts for approximately 83 percent of all recent infections nationwide. The efficacy against the Delta variant from just one dose of either mRNA vaccine is just 33 percent, but after two doses is in the 82-83percent range, lower than the 95 percent range against the original strain. The one-dose vaccine by Johnson&Johnson is estimated to only provide 57-60 percent protection against the Delta variant.
Howard Brown continues its efforts to reach patients who have not verified their vaccination status or those who may not be fully vaccinated. Anyone who wishes to receive the COVID-19 vaccine should call Howard Brown at 773.388.1600 to schedule an appointment. Howard Brown administers vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson according to CDC guidelines.
Watch Howard Brown’s vaccine acceptance campaign videos on YouTube.
Erik Roldan, Director of Communications and Marketing
Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in health care experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people through research, education, and the provision of services that promote health and wellness. Howard Brown is the largest LGBTQ organization in the Midwest, providing primary and specialty health care, social services, and infectious disease screenings to more than 40,000 people each year. In response to the pandemic, Howard Brown has limited services to eight of its 11 clinic locations and launched telephone and video options for patients to access care via telehealth. Learn more at howardbrown.org.