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CHICAGO – A sea of maskless, sweaty, thrashing bodies filled Chicago’s Grant Park, pushing up against the performance stage as acts like Miley Cyrus screamed into the microphone.

Roughly 100,000 people a night poured into the four-day long Lollapalooza, one of the biggest music festivals in the world. But, as it happened this year, the festivities came at the same time that the White House was recalibrating its message on Covid-19, warning that vaccinated people who experienced rare, so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant could transmit the virus as readily as the un-immunized.

The warning was issued with a fair bit of alarm, including a sober address from President Joe Biden himself. But by that point, eager concert-goers were already flooding into the event.

Lollapalooza had been greenlighted weeks earlier, which city officials say was based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and messaging from the White House. As a precaution, event organizers required those attending to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test from within the last 72 hours.

The festival is also held outside, which helps mitigate against transmission. But with hospitalizations up 35 percent, Cook County was added just this Thursday to the CDC’s areas experiencing “substantial” Covid spread. And with the administration having revised its mask guidance and with new revelations about the Delta variant, medical experts and some local politicians were already steeling themselves for the worst.

“This really has the possibility of being a super spreader event,” said Chicago Alderman Chris Taliaferro, a member of the city council’s Progressive Reform Caucus. “Unfortunately, we may possibly have to deal with the aftermath of this.”

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