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COVID-19 cases spike in Coachella Valley following festival

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.

Tens of thousands of spectators gathered to see acts like Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Swedish House Mafia, and The Weeknd.
Getty Images for Coachella

Daily COVID-19 cases in the mountain and desert-ridden county reportedly jumped from 102 to 180 in the two weeks since the eve of the event, which started on April 14. Officials said the real figures are higher.

“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.

General crowd view at the 2022 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 22 in Indio, California.
Stagecoach Festival is going on this weekend at the same venue Coachella uses.
Getty Images for Coachella

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