Tens of thousands of music fans will be descending on Miami Gardens in two days for the Rolling Loud music festival as Florida experiences a surge tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases.
Viral experts say it’s as important a time as ever to vaccinate and remember virus precautions as the contagious Delta variant spreads, but vaccinations aren’t a requirement to attend the first true mass gathering event to return from the pandemic.
The annual hip-hop festival will be held from July 23 to July 25 at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr. Dozens of artists are scheduled to perform with headliners A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott and Post Malone.
Additionally, it’s also been reported that Kanye West will be making an appearance.
With a star-studded lineup and the cancellation of Rolling Loud in 2020 due to the pandemic, crowds are expected to be in the tens of thousands — mostly occupied by young adults.
A mass gathering of this scale and Florida’s current COVID-19 surge could be a perfect storm for the latest, contagious Delta variant.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health announced 45,449 new resident cases of COVID-19 since July 9, nearly double the level of new statewide cases from last week and more than four times the levels of mid-June.
Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cheriff assured there would be sanitizer onsite and other items to “keep yourself clean”, but attendees will have the choice of being vaccinated or masked.
A spokesperson for the festival said they’re encouraging attendees who have not yet been inoculated to get their vaccines at an onsite pod each day.
“Fans will have the choice, whether or not they want to be vaccinated or mask,” Cheriff added. “That’s basically what we believe in. You got the choice and that’s it.”
Co-founder Matt Zingler noted that Rolling Loud is in compliance and fully cooperating with all measures given to them by health officials.
“We are following government guidelines with a plan that has been fully approved by the county,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to follow their guidance as we move forward with our outdoor event.”
Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, Florida International University professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology, says the Delta variant is having the largest effect on unvaccinated individuals, which comprises mostly of young adults.
“While we have very good vaccination rates among people 65 and older, the rates are much lower among younger people,” Trepka said. “It’s very likely that in those crowds there will probably be a lot of people who are not vaccinated.”
Florida Department of Health variant data shows that the Delta variant is becoming more prevalent in the last month.
“People need to know that COVID is here, it’s not going away, it keeps coming back and in different forms.” Trepka said. “We need to get everybody vaccinated so we don’t keep getting wave after wave.”
One dose of a two-dose series won’t suffice to effectively work against Delta, Trepka said. Both shots of Moderna and Pfizer are needed.
She also suggests wearing a mask due to the large crowds of people who will attend, especially for those who are unvaccinated.
In fact, Trepka believes those who are unvaccinated, have underlying conditions or live with people who could be seriously effected by the virus should rethink even going to Rolling Loud.
“You probably think twice about even going given how much [COVID] transmission we have in the community,” Trepka said. “People need to be aware that we have a lot of cases right now.”
This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Rolling Loud Co-founder Matt Zingler’s name.