(August 9) Because of concerns about a major spike in coronavirus caseloads, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival made the understandable but unnecessary decision to cancel its planned October extravaganza.

The Jazz Fest was initially canceled from its usual spring dates in 2020 because of the coronavirus, then again from fall dates in 2020, then again from spring 2021, only to return with a special edition planned on the second and third weekends of this coming October. Fest-based excitement in recent weeks in the Crescent City was palpable and, well, infectious.

The confirmed musical lineup was over-the-top spectacular: The Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Jimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, Ludacris, Ziggy Marley, Demi Lovato, Elvis Costello, Melissa Etheridge, and Randy Newman, along with other national acts and the usual plethora of superb local performers.

However, the delta variant began spreading, with Louisiana being particularly hit hard and New Orleans setting new records for hospitalizations for four consecutive days. The state is reaping the whirlwind for having the fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the nation. Meanwhile, worldwide deaths have hit 4.33 million, with 2 million occurring in the past six months. This pandemic isn’t “over,” not by a long shot, and new mutations could put everyone at risk — even those whose vaccines make them safe from current variants.

That’s how virus pandemics work .

Nonetheless, it is also true that right now, those who are vaccinated are extremely unlikely to be hospitalized even if they do catch the disease. It’s a known fact the virus doesn’t spread readily in open air. Again and again, we’ve seen outdoor events and protests take place without demonstrably becoming “superspreaders.” The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 weren’t superspreaders ; the huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, last year didn’t really move the needle ; and so far, there’s no evidence Chicago’s recent Lollapalooza music festival was a disaster, either. … [The full column is at this link.]


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