The Southern California county that hosted the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has seen a surge in coronavirus cases since the massive two-weekend gathering earlier this month, a report said.
Daily cases of COVID-19 in Riverside County spiked more than 75 percent two weeks after tens of thousands of music fans flooded the area, according to NBC News.
The mostly outdoor festival featuring Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, The Weekend and dozens of other acts had no mask, testing or vaccination mandates, according to organizers.
“When you’re in close proximity to others singing and dancing and eating and drinking — all the things that you do with these festivals — it’s not surprising that we’re going to see transmission,” Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, told the network.
“What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg because we know that only a fraction of people who test positive are taking PCR tests or tests that are going to be reported,” Rimoin reportedly said.
Another festival was underway in the Coachella Valley this weekend, complicating the surge.
“We’ll be dealing with the echoes of this for weeks to come,” Rimoin said, according to the article.
“We’re destined to see many more cases as a result.”
The vast majority of cases in the area were reportedly of the BA.2 omicron subvariant, which is 50 percent more contagious than the original omicron strain and nine times more transmissible than the delta variant, White House officials estimate.
“We’ve looked at outdoor events in the past as being a little bit more protective than indoor events when it comes to the transmission of COVID-19, but I think that omicron really changed that calculation,” Cindy Prins, a clinical associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, reportedly said.
“If you go to that kind of event, you have to expect that you could get exposed to COVID,” she added.
Coachella did not immediately respond to the network’s request for comment.
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