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Uncertainty As In-Person Concerts Return This Summer

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(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Starting this summer and extending into the fall, musicians and bands are returning to the stage. Names like Green Day, Harry Styles, and Garth Brooks have announced tour dates.

What We Know:

  • The Foo Fighters kicked off the return of the concert scene with a big show in Madison Square Garden this past Sunday to celebrate the reopening. It was the first time in 400 days that the venue had been used for a concert. In order to attend, guests had to have proof of full vaccination, but COVID protocols for large gatherings continue to vary state by state.
  • As artists continue to announce summer tour dates, it’s clear there is excitement to return to the road. One Republic’s Ryan Tedder told CNN, “I think live music will explode. I think this has created a scenario in which everyone that’s alive has this lease on their time in moving forward, at least for the next year or two.”
  • Touring professionals were hit the hardest when concerts shut down in March of 2020. A lot of crew members are balancing feelings of relief and caution. David Morgan, James Taylor’s front-of-house engineer, stated, “I’m completely vaccinated but there’s still the unknown factor of what happens when you get 15,000 people into an arena. We don’t know that yet. This is all uncharted territory.”
  • Morgan was planning on retiring last year, but the pandemic cost him $100,000 in income, which will force him to be on the road for at least another year. As James Taylor’s tour dates loom, he is apprehensive to see how the events will pan out, “I’m wondering how much physical separation there’s actually going to be. I’m wondering what the vaccine policy in the building is going to be.”
  • Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer’s “Hella Mega” tour plans on extensive safety protocols. The trio of bands are exclusively performing at outdoor venues and all members of the road team must be vaccinated. A COVID compliance office will travel with them to keep organizers up to date on different states’ regulations. However, unvaccinated fans could lead to a potential outbreak and jeopardize these tours for another period of time.

The financial hardships experienced by concert staff in the last year have left behind some apprehension as the pandemic subsides. While artists and fans alike are excited to experience live performances again, the risk of cancellations is a factor.

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Coronavirus

Biden Calls Out DeSantis’ Refusal on Mask Mandates

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President Joe Biden told reporters that Governors Ron DeSantis’s decisions against mask mandates would eventually have results that will affect constituents.

What We Know:

  • Biden’s message comes after DeSantis declared he would not impose mask mandates in Florida. DeSantis also said he would withhold funds from any schools that attempt to place guidelines on wearing masks. Currently, Florida faces a severe spike in cases due to the Delta variant and lower vaccination rates.
  • Because of this, Biden gave his stern commandment. The President stated the country needs leadership from everyone, and if some governors do not want “to do the right thing” to beat the pandemic, they should allow businesses and universities to do so. Pres. Biden further reminded the governors that they hold the power to save lives.

 “But if you are not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing,” said Biden.

  • DeSantis believes the spike in cases is just a pattern, similar to those seen last year despite the President’s pleas. In addition, the Florida governor downplayed the state’s surge in hospitalizations; according to DeSantis, COVID patients only “represent a fraction of the overall hospital beds.”
  • Furthermore, DeSantis responded to Biden’s comments at an August 4th press conference. He claimed the President was singling out Florida over the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, DeSantis stated Biden did not live up to his promise to end the virus’ spread, as he allows the United States to have a “wide open southern border.” DeSantis stated that until Pres. Biden secures the border, he wishes not to hear anything about COVID from him.

On August 5th, Florida saw 20,133 new COVID-19 cases. On July 31, the state recorded 21,683 cases, the highest number since the pandemic’s beginning; August 5th’s results were only 1,550 test results lower.

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Coronavirus

Disneyland and Disney World to Require Masks Indoors Again Regardless of Vaccination Status

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The new policy follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)‘s recommendation that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in places such as California and Florida.

What We Know:

  • As of July 30, the Walt Disney Company requires all park visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face-coverings indoors at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. The only guests who are exempt from these rules are children under the age of two.
  • On July 27, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings declared a local state of emergency due to a spike in coronavirus cases; according to Demings’ executive order, the county in which Disney World is located saw the 14-day rolling positivity rate go over 15%. Orange County also saw a new record of 1,371 cases, the highest number since the pandemic’s beginning, a day prior to the mayor’s announcement.
  • The CDC further ruled Orange County an area with high transmission levels; officials added that the virus “continues to pose a public health threat.” In addition, Anaheim, the location for Disneyland, is facing “substantial” levels of community transmission. On the week of July 30, the city saw a seven-day positivity rate of 6.33%.
  • The influx in cases comes as the Delta variant runs rampant across the country. Currently, the more contagious version of the virus accounts for approximately 83% of cases in the U.S. The more frequent occurrences of COVID-19 also stem from the fact that vaccination rates have slowed down significantly. Disney Parks might continue to enact these mandates until cases stabilize once more.

Last March, the Walt Disney Company closed down all of its parks worldwide as the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Walt Disney World in Florida became the first U.S. park to reopen in July 2020. Disneyland opened its gates nine months after Disney World in April 2021.

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Florida Breaks Record for COVID-19 Hospitalizations

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Florida recently saw 10,207 hospitalizations caused by coronavirus cases, the highest number since July 23, 2020.

What We Know:

  • On July 23, 2020, Florida reached a high of 10,170 hospitalizations, just six months before the COVID-19 vaccine became available. The new record makes Florida the leader in per capita hospitalizations for the virus.
  • Most of the new cases come from the highly contagious Delta variant. On average, Florida sees 1,525 adult and 35 children hospitalizations daily. In addition, Saturday revealed a peak in positive numbers, as the stated reported  21,683 occurrences of COVID-19. The day prior, the Sunshine State saw 17,093 cases.
  • Many hospital employees believed the excess hospitalizations would end soon because of an increase in vaccinations. However, the Delta variant changed all this. The Associated Press wrote that several hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic Florida and the UF Health North emergency room, needed to operate overcapacity and put beds in hallways to treat patients; the Mayo Clinic will continue to do so until the current surge ends. In Tampa, some local ambulances already needed to divert ambulances to other locations because of capacity concerns.
  • The higher numbers also are a direct result of a loosening of restrictions and a governor’s stubbornness. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis actively declares he will not enact any more mask mandates and vaccine requirements. Along with the state Legislature, this makes it difficult for local officials to impose restrictions that will ease the positive numbers.
  • Medical officials scorned DeSantis for his adamance on the issue. Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based vascular cardiologist and Florida State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, commented that the state would not be in its position now if DeSantis focused more on lowering cases than proving Dr. Anthony Fauci wrong. Gainesville infectious disease expert Dr. Frederick Southwick agreed with Ashby’s statement, saying that DeSantis needed to stop acting like “Florida won the pandemic.”

DeSantis recently announced that Florida would resist any federal authorities’ campaigns to enforce mask mandates inside schools despite the criticism.

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