COVID-19 cases rise as Riverview Music Festival debuts in Des Moines

As the Riverview Music Festival approaches its opening event on Metro Des Moines this weekend, the state is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Dr. Austin Baeth, who works in internal medicine at UnityPoint in Des Moines, consulted with the festival on COVID-19 protocols. The majority of the festival’s visitors are expected to be between 18 and 30 years old. Baeth says about 40 percent of the people in that age group are currently fully vaccinated in Iowa.

“With the Delta variant, we simply don’t know what is actually safe anymore. It’s so contagious. Riverview is committed to opening this up to reduced capacity. Many music festivals do that. They only opened ticket sales up to 50 percent of the maximum capacity for the Riverview parking area, ”said Baeth.

“In a perfect world, proof of vaccination would be mandatory and / or participants would have to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 24-48 hours. The festival was unable to implement this at the moment given the availability of tests. My biggest advice to concertgoers right now is to use the space the festival offers for social distancing. “

Kukuu Saah, an organizer of the event, confirmed that the festival sold less than 50 percent of the venue’s capacity before the weekend to ensure there was space for everyone to spread out.

“We take this as seriously as possible and we are concerned about vaccination rates, so we will provide free masks to anyone who wants one and we will follow the protocols we have posted on our website. Said Saah.

Stay out of the pit

You can read the festival’s COVID-19 plan on their website. Dr. Baeth shared tips on staying healthy at events like the Riverview Music Festival.

“The risk will never be zero if you go into a crowded public area, so if people want to go there are ways to reduce that risk significantly. Here’s how:

  • To be vaccinated.
  • Wear a mask especially when you are in the pit, queuing to get drinks, queuing to get food, or queuing to use the toilet.
  • Wear sunglasses or eye protection. COVID-19 can be transmitted through droplets that get into your eyes.
  • Bring your own hand sanitizer.
  • Stay out of the pit. “

Major music festivals, including Backcountry, which was held in Iowa in August, haven’t turned into super-spreader events. Final visitor numbers for the hinterland were not reported.

Many of the cases that can be traced back to large open-air concerts are connected directly to the pit in the front area of ​​the stage.

“There was a festival in Oregon that had over 60 cases associated with the festival and they were all in the pit,” says Dr. Baeth. “Try to go to an area where you can keep your distance from others. If you’re dying to go into the pit, wear an N95 mask and eye protection, and make sure you’re fully vaccinated. I think most people forget that COVID is transmitted when the virus hits the eye. So wear at least one pair of sunglasses in such an environment. “