Musikfest ‘could be a superspreader event’

Written by on July 28, 2021

Musikfest ‘could be a superspreader event’

By Tyler Pratt
July 28, 2021

a concert from 2019 Musikfest. Photo| Staci Inez /WLVR & PBS39

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Pennsylvania has seen an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days. Nearly  1,000 new cases on July 27, the highest since May, is alarming public health experts and raising questions about Musikfest attendance next week. 

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Musikfest went mostly virtual last year due to COVID shutdowns. But in 2019, organizers say more than a million people attended the 10-day event in person. 

Crysan Cronin, director of Public Health at Muhlenberg College, worries some attendees may come from states with high COVID numbers and with low vaccination rates who are carrying the virus with them. 

“Musikfest is a public health nightmare even when we’re not in a pandemic, but obviously this year is of great concern,” Chronin said. “Musikfest could be a superspreader event especially among unvaccinated people including children.”

Chronin’s not saying people shouldn’t go. She says families with unvaccinated kids may want to attend during off-peak times. She advises people to wear masks when inside and even outside.

“Even though most of the events are held outdoors where the risk of spreading the virus is reduced, it’s still possible to transmit and contract the virus especially in packed crowds,” Chronin said. 

Chronin expects COVID numbers in the Lehigh Valley to go up as a result of the festival. 

Musikfest Chief Executive Officer Kassie Hilgert said festival officials are in close contact with Bethelehehm’s Health Department for guidance and will adjust safety plans as necessary.

“The best thing we all can do is get vaccinated,” Hilgert said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance on July 27 that people in areas of substantial transmission rates — like Northampton County —  should wear masks indoors. 

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