Over Halloween weekend, the Vermont jam band Phish played a series of concerts in Las Vegas. Several days later, one attendee posted to Facebook that he had tested positive for COVID-19 — and more than 500 replied, most saying that they or someone they knew had also tested positive after attending the concert.
I've always thought that Phish a contagion, but this is not how I expected that to manifest.
While there's no way to know exactly how many cases came from this string of shows, the Boston Globe did track some of the regional impact of the Vegas event:
The Vermont health department said it recorded "at least" nine cases potentially linked to the concerts in Las Vegas. Rhode Island is reporting at least five. A Massachusetts health department spokeswoman said the agency had "no knowledge" of confirmed cases linked to the Phish events. But three of five Massachusetts residents interviewed by the Globe said they tested positive days after returning home from the shows. They reported having relatively minor symptoms, though two said they still hadn't recovered their sense of smell or taste. All five from Massachusetts said they were vaccinated.
MGM said Phish fans at its Las Vegas venue were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test not more than 72 hours before the event. But that allowed a significant gap: fans who tested negative before the first show were not required to retest if they attended the later concerts.
Attendees as far as California reported that they had tested positive as well, according to the Facebook group.
The Globe also spoke with several concertgoers, who noted that the indoor event was tightly packed and poorly ventilated. Some complained about "stagnant air," although, to be fair, that's a fairly common occurrence at any Phish concert. While masks were not required, some concertgoers who voluntarily wore them reported that they did not test positive. Also to be fair, it's harder to smoke copious amounts of weed with a mask on.
'COVID positive from Vegas.' Phish concerts leave a long trail of infections, fans say [Kay Lazar / The Boston Globe]
Image: Dan Shinneman / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 3.0)