ACL results in few COVID-19 cases

Kevin Vu, News Reporter

The Austin City Limits Music Festival did not cause a massive outbreak of COVID-19 in Austin, as low numbers of positive cases have been linked to the festival in the two weeks since it ended.

Even though thousands of people attended ACL over its two weekends at the beginning of October, Austin health officials said 36 COVID-19 cases were attributed to the festival, according to KXAN. Some students who attended said they took precautions to prevent themselves from contracting the virus.

Austin Public Health did not respond to a request to comment before publication.

Spencer Woody, a postdoctoral researcher at UT’s COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, said the full impact of ACL on COVID-19 cases isn’t fully known, but he believes ACL is a success story for how large festivals can operate while keeping COVID-19 cases down.

“We should be concerned whether there’s a large in-person event (and) whether we’ll see transmission of the virus,” Woody said. “What’s sort of remarkable is actually how few cases seem to have been recorded since (ACL).”

The festival required attendees to bring either a printed copy of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Additionally, the festival required masks in areas of Zilker Park where it was difficult to maintain social distancing such as entrance lines, indoor areas and spaces closest to the stages.

Government sophomore Gabriel Orellana said he decided to go to the first weekend of ACL despite the risk of contracting COVID-19 and made sure to take precautions.

“I don’t consider myself at risk; I’m vaccinated,” Orellana said. ”Everyone who decided to go knows the risk. Even after we got back, we all made sure to not go to class and get tested, because … I’m not going to expose anyone to something I might have gotten.”

Monse Guel, a textiles and apparel sophomore, said for a week she stayed in bed with no energy, headaches, a sore throat and a runny nose after going to ACL during the second weekend. Guel said she did not get a COVID-19 test because she was too sick to get out of bed, but she stayed in her dorm room for a week.

She said getting sick did not ruin her experience.

“I didn’t really regret going to ACL,” Guel said. “It was a great experience, and I was looking forward to it.”