Eleven Napa County residents who attended the BottleRock Napa Valley Festival over Labor Day weekend have tested positive for COVID-19 according to country health officials, who saw the number as an indicator of successful safety protocols.
“In the 14-day period after BottleRock Napa Valley took place, we are pleased to report that Napa County did not experience any material impact on COVID case numbers as a result,” Dr. Karen Relucio, the county’s public health officer, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The protocols that the festival’s producers developed, in collaboration with public health, proved extremely effective,” Relucio said.
Last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, the festival took place at the Napa Valley Expo from Sept. 3-5 and saw near 120,000 attendees. According to Relucio, Napa COVID-19 cases in Napa County have decrased by 28% in the two weeks since. On Sept. 17, two weeks after BottleRock opened, the county was averaging 23 new cases per 100,000 residents in seven days, a rate that has since decreased to 15.
Sonoma County saw similar numbers to Napa, with fewer than 10 cases in residents who attended BottleRock.
The event marked the first major festival in Northern California since the start of the pandemic. Organizers required attendees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test, and festival co-producers Live Nation and Latitude 38 Entertainment report that 96% of attendees showed proof of vaccination. BottleRock also encouraged attendees to wear masks, though most did not, but attendees used touchless wristbands for cashless transactions and most performances occurred outdoors.
“We are seeing overall declining case rates,” said Kate Pack, Sonoma County’s lead epidemiologist during a COVID-19 briefing last week. However, she also said the number of COVID-19 cases resulting from the festival is likely higher than we’re aware of, as county officials are typically only able to trace about half the cases reported. “I don’t know if we have the full picture yet in terms of BottleRock,” she said.
California currently has the lowest COVID-19 transmission rate in the country. As of Monday, the federal government designated California to be in the “moderate” transmission category, while most states remain at “high” transmission levels.
BottleRock Performers this year included Guns N’ Roses, Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus among others, and BottleRock is set to take place again in Napa on Memorial Day Weekend in 2022. Upcoming festivals in the region include the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park over Halloween weekend.