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COVID threatening Pride events again

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The spike in COVID-19 cases has started to threaten Illinois LGBTQ Pride events again.

Southern Illinois Pride Fest announced Tuesday evening that they were cancelling their 2021 Pride event, the second year in a row the event has been cancelled. It had been planned for September.

Howard Brown Health, Chicago’s largest LGBTQ health system, said if this year’s Northalstead Market Days in August and the Pride Parade couldn’t implement COVID safety measures, they should be cancelled for the year. Again, this would be the second year in a row the events have been cancelled.

COVID rates have been rising across the country over the past month, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 7,983 new coronavirus cases for last week. That’s a big jump from 4,449 the previous week.

Southern Illinois Pride Fest made the announcement on their Facebook page.

Howard Brown made their plea in a press release.

“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, in the press release. “Events on the North Side inevitably impact all parts of the city. Future lockdowns are assured unless we undertake mitigation strategies now.”

The health system said they were withdrawing their participation in all public events. Their own events would be done virtually. This does include Market Days, the Bud Billiken Parade, the Pride Parade.

“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.

Howard Brown is asking businesses and event producers to:

  • Implement capacity limits
  • Adhere to strict social distancing enforcement measures
  • Re-implement mask requirements
  • Require COVID-19 vaccine verification

IDPH has said that they will be following the CDC’s updated masking recommendations. The CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a mask in public indoor setting in areas with substantial and high transmission.

In Illinois, much of the southern third of the state are seeing high transmission rates. In fact, the Belleville News-Democrat reported that southwestern Illinois was the worst affected in the state. Hospitals in Metro East are seeing their lowest ICU availability since February and the local positivity rate is at 9.1%, the highest since January.

While transmission in much of northern Illinois is moderate, the majority of the state is seeing substantial or high transmission.

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