Marquette students attending Summerfest during September have a responsibility to adhere to COVID-19 health guidelines to protect the health of other attendees and themselves.
Summerfest, which is usually hosted on weekends in June, was postponed earlier this year to September 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18 in order to give more time for COVID-19 vaccination distribution.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 466,970, or 49.4% of Milwaukee County residents are fully vaccinated and 3.2 million, or 55.1% of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated as of Sept. 3.
The number of fully vaccinated individuals actually planning to attend Summerfest over the month is even more difficult to track because they are coming from all over the country.
Despite these challenges, Summerfest announced it will be requiring attendees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test upon entry. However, Summerfest did not make an announcement requiring attendees to wear a face mask.
Even if students are vaccinated, they should consider wearing a mask at Summerfest in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially considering COVID-19 cases were linked to another music festival this summer.
This year, 203 COVID-19 cases were detected to be linked with Lollapalooza in Chicago, which had over 385,000 attendees. Like Summerfest, Lollapalooza also required attendees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Attendees were also not required to wear face masks. Chicago officials said that about 90% of Lollapalooza attendees were vaccinated.
Even with high vaccination rates, COVID-19 can still spread, especially with the Delta variant.
For example, even with nearly 92% of students uploading proof of COVID-19 vaccination, there have still been 21 COVID-19 reported cases among students in the past week, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard.
As the largest music festival in the United States, Summerfest had over 718,000 people attend in both 2018 and 2019, so it is important that Marquette students do their part to not repeat a scenario like the one at Lollapalooza that resulted in a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Students should wear masks at Summerfest, especially because it is not a required policy.
This is especially important considering that the Delta variant is currently the predominant strain of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, which is extremely contagious and spreads more quickly than previous strains, regardless of vaccination status, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The Delta variant is also the leading cause of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Wisconsin, which spiked in the middle of August with hospitalizations increasing to 329 Aug. 17 from its lowest point of 25 July 2.
It is a privilege to be able to attend Summerfest, and students need to make sure they are making safe and responsible decisions.
Students should take advantage of COVID-19 rapid testing at Walgreens at 3522 Wisconsin Avenue and at CVS on Farwell Avenue north of the Summerfest grounds before going to the festival: They should also not go to Summerfest if they are feeling unwell.
Being mindful when exploring Milwaukee outside of campus is crucial to setting a good example of Marquette’s guiding values and teachings, especially when it comes to taking COVID-19 health precautions. For example, in the last 30 days, there have been 5,455 reported COVID-19 cases and 671 COVID-19-related deaths due to the Delta variant, according to the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
While students often live in the “Marquette bubble” where they predominantly interact with members of the Marquette community, they have a responsibility to embody Marquette’s guiding value of cura personalis, or caring for the whole person, when interacting with people outside the Marquette bubble. This includes taking COVID-19 health precautions like wearing a mask.
Marquette students also need to be aware that while the university has a high percentage of students who have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, the rest of Milwaukee and the rest of the country do not have very high percentages. Only 53% of the U.S. population and 55.1% of the Wisconsin population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Sept. 6.
Marquette students have a responsibility to be the difference on and off campus, and wearing a face mask at Summerfest even if everyone else isn’t is one way to do so to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of the Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR and ten additional top editors across the organization.