Will Sutton: Attend the Essence Festival vaccinated, boosted and masked. Quit whining. | Columnist Will Sutton

The organizers of the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture are right to require that participants at its mostly indoors events be vaccinated.

No, you shouldn’t be going to festival events with thousands of your closest friends without being vaccinated. If you’re eligible, you should be boosted, too. everyone who goes to those crowded stage areas really should wear a high quality mask, but at least wear some kind of mask to limit the spread of the virus.

In case you weren’t listening – or maybe you forgot – even people who have been vaccinated and boosted can spread the vicious virus. The more precautions we take, the less likely it is to spread. The less spread, the fewer people will get sick and, gulp, even fewer will die.

In the end, people, this is about public healthnot just your individual health.

I think Essence organizers know they messed up. They should’ve told people in April, May and early June that vaccinations were required and not simply negative COVID test results. They should’ve told people that they would provide ticket refunds for those who had already purchased tickets. Instead, we’ve had a flip flop about the festival’s health policies and that doesn’t look good.

We haven’t had enough people vaccinated in Louisiana since the pandemic started. As a result, we continue to be at risk. The number of our COVID cases has been rising, and 57% of those cases are among the unvaccinated. City Hall isn’t requiring vaccines; Essence is requiring vaccines. That is the type of business, corporate and event responsibility we need to keep everyone safe.

We all want good and fun times in the city that best knows how to throw a party, but who wants to wake up in a hospital room or sick in bed?

Essence Festival organizers are doing the right thing to take into consideration all of its performers, speakers, partners, sponsors and participants. No one wants Essence Fest to be identified as a COVID super-spreader.

I’m sorry some people got caught off guard and had to cancel their flights and hotel reservations upon realizing they wouldn’t be able to enter festival events. But I prefer inconveniencing some people and keeping them away over having a super-spreader event that puts New Orleans on the map as a summer 2022 COVID hot spot.

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