Chicago officials plan for monkeypox ahead of Market Days festival

With the pulsating lights and blaring music of Market Days, there’s something about dancing in the clubs and stages of street festivals this weekend that will strike a chord.

As North Alstead Market Days, an LGBTQ-centric street festival, brings tens of thousands to Chicago, the epidemic of the monkeypox virus comes to mind. But before the party begins, doctors, health experts and festival organizers share their concerns and advice on how to stay safe.

Biden administration plans to declare monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on thursday.

At a press conference on Thursday to discuss the city’s efforts to control the spread of monkeypox at Market Day, Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. He said he was “delighted” to see the federal designation.Chicago sees “zero (federal) to combat MPV at this time” and therefore hopes to “increase funding flexibility.” Offers.

The festival flaunts a huge DJ dance area. Official events are attended by singers, comedians and drag stars. More than 100,000 people flock to Halsted Street each year, said festival chairman Mark Liberson.

“There are busier bars and busier streets. It’s just more people in more different areas,” says Liberson, who owns bars Elixir, Hydrate and Replay in North Halsted.

The Northalsted Business Alliance, the organization that runs the festival, is working with health officials to spread messages about the disease during the festival, he said.Coordinated community response to monkeypox virus reminds us of the response to the AIDS epidemic.

“This community has a long history of working together to address health issues,” Liberson said.

Health officials said in the majority of cases they saw, the virus appeared to have been transmitted primarily through sexual contact between men. It emphasizes the importance of public education and personal risk management. Vaccines are relatively scarce and prioritized for those at high risk.

However, canceling Market Day was not on consideration, Alwadi said. Given that monkeypox doesn’t seem to be spreading at bar gatherings or street parties, “we don’t think it’s the right message to say we’re not doing this at all.” We know there is, and we have a lot of data about it.”

But she said, “It’s time to be careful. Having multiple or anonymous sex partners now is riskier in this situation.”

Festival organizers and public health officials are asking people showing symptoms of monkeypox, including undiagnosed rashes and mild flu-like symptoms, not to come to the festival, he added. believes the virus can still be contained.

“It’s not an easy catch,” he said. “I think there is an opportunity for people to continue to enjoy life and live safely.”

The number of monkeypox cases in Chicago rose to 459 on Thursday after Gov. JB Pritzker declared the epidemic a statewide public health emergency.

In Chicago, the virus has been detected among gay and bisexual men, and the trend is spreading across the country and around the world. Public Health Data indicate. But other people can and do get the virus city-wide, and public health officials have repeatedly pointed out that the virus is not discriminatory.

Monkeypox can be spread by direct or indirect contact with the virus’s characteristic painful pimple-like rash. Most often spread through sex. Ald said that could be an issue for Market Days. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward.

“It’s kind of a love fest,” said Tunney, who is gay and represents the area where the festival takes place.

Market Days is set on Halstead Street in Northalsted, formerly known as Boystown. Tunney calls it a “tourist mecca” for his LGBTQ+ people across the country. The festival celebrates his 40th anniversary this year and has been an integral part of his local gay community for decades. According to Tunney, it especially draws people from across the Midwest.

But this time around, anonymous intimate contact “probably isn’t the right thing to do,” Tunney said, adding that people should avoid mixing drugs and alcohol at festivals as well.

“Use common sense,” said Tunney.

Dr. Anilda Hazra, an infectious disease physician at the Howard Brown Health Center and Chicago Medical School, said the city was more active than during the massive LGBTQ-focused Chicago Pride Festival and the International Mr. Leather Conference. says it is well positioned to respond to monkeypox.

“It’s much easier and less cumbersome to send tests for monkeypox,” Hazra said. Significant increases in public awareness, greater access to vaccines, and new federal protocols for prescribing effective antiviral drugs have also strengthened the response to the virus, he said.

Still, Hazra expects the number of cases to continue to rise after Market Days. All large gatherings can spread contagious diseases, including last week’s Lollapalooza music festival, including COVID-19, he said. But while you can’t eliminate the risks, you can reduce the harm.

“The first thing people need to know is that they can have a good time,” Hazra said. “There are ways to have fun while staying healthy.”

Gay and bisexual men should consider who and where to get intimate this weekend, Hazra said. He added that intimate partners should have open and honest conversations about monkeypox.

And in a crowded space, like a dance club, where people can rub against each other, “think about wearing a shirt,” Hazra said.

The city’s top doctor had her own advice.

“Turn on the lights before you turn them off,” Alwadi said, encouraging people to check for rashes and discuss monkeypox risks with potential sexual partners.

Avoiding contact with viral rashes that appear all over the body and around the genitals is an essential way to avoid contracting monkeypox, she added.

To make sure people are thinking about the disease and how to protect themselves from it, CDPH has printed 10,000 palm cards and 1,000 posters to share information, Mr Arwady said.

Banners are posted at gates, informational videos are played in bars, and educators are posted at entrances to answer questions and point people to resources. Arwadi said he had made a public security announcement about monkeypox for the festival.

After the official festival event concludes at 10pm each day, many attendees head to a large dance party called the Circuit Party.

Edwin Martinez, Director of Operations for CircuitMOM Productions, a company that organizes circuit parties and other events, said:

The organization has already sold out Saturday night parties at the 5,000-capacity Aragon Ballroom. Martinez said Sunday’s event was also nearly sold out. Resale tickets are about $100 online.

At the party, attendees go all out in costume.Saturday’s event has a retro video game theme. Sunday’s motif is “at the rodeo”. People can find space on the balcony, but the dance floor gets crowded every year.

“We try to do as much education as possible for people who come to town,” Martinez said. CircuitMOM Productions shares information on its website and social media about where vaccinations are available, encourages those with symptoms not to come to parties, and reminds guests who want to have sex to do so elsewhere. I am telling you that there is

The group also added extra air conditioning so people could dance comfortably if they wanted to wear extra layers. He added that the event is safe because it will occur via

“We are a dance party for people to dance. did.

Massimo Pacilli, CDPH’s deputy director for disease control, told the Tribune that casual contact with others is unlikely to transmit disease, but we need to make sure sexual contact is safe. participants should avoid sharing drinks or vapors, he added.

Outdoor events are less risky than indoor events, Pasiri said. And while layering isn’t always in vogue at Market Days, it’s a good idea to dress up for tight spots.

“The spacing and layers of clothing are enough to really get the job done here,” he said.

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Howard Brown will host a monkeypox vaccination clinic during Market Day at the Cell Block Bar on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5pm, with walk-in slots available from 3pm to 5pm, a spokesperson said. Eric Roldan, of To be eligible for shots, you must meet CDPH criteria and be a resident of Illinois.

The highly coveted shot is in short supply across cities and countries. The Chicago Department of Health recently said the new dose will be used to vaccinate as many at-risk people as possible.

Many people from nearby Midwestern states with little or no vaccine stock are likely to seek vaccination during the festival, according to Howard Brown clinician Hazra.

He wants the city to vaccinate everyone at risk, which the CDPH now says includes men having sex with multiple or anonymous men. .

For more important information about monkeypox and the latest data on the spread of the virus in Chicago, visit the Chicago Department of Public Health website. Monkeypox Facts Page.

Twitter: @jakesheridan_

Chicago officials plan for monkeypox ahead of Market Days festival

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