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203 cases of COVID-19 linked to Chicago's Lollapalooza

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Chicago health officials on Thursday reported 203 cases of COVID-19 connected to Lollapalooza, casting it as a number that was anticipated and not yet linked to any hospitalizations or deaths.

“Nothing unexpected here,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference. “No sign of a ‘superspreader event’. But clearly with hundreds of thousands of people attending Lollapalooza we would expect to see some cases.”

The four-day music festival, which started two weeks ago, drew about 385,000 people to a lakefront park. Critics questioned holding the event during the pandemic. Footage showed tightly packed crowds at concerts and on public transportation with few masks in sight. Last year’s festival was canceled because of COVID-19.

But Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials have defended the decision, saying there were safety protocols in place. Festival goers had to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test and city officials said about 90% were vaccinated.

Arwady said the number of positive cases included those who tested positive after or during Lollapalooza, which could include people who might have arrived already infected. For instance, 13 Chicago residents who tested positive reported attended Lollapalooza on or after the day their symptoms began.

She said the city was still investigating cases, but did not expect it to make a major impact on COVID-19 infection rates.

“We would have seen a surge if we were going to see a surge at this point,” she said.

Among those who tested positive, city officials said 138 were Illinois residents from outside Chicago, 58 were from the city and seven were from out of state. Nearly 80% of those who tested positive were under 30, and about 62% were white, Arwady said.

Stevie Nicks has canceled five forthcoming performances at music festivals, citing coronavirus concerns, she said in a statement Tuesday.

Nicks had been scheduled to headline one day each of BottleRock Napa Valley in California and the Jazz Aspen Festival in Colorado in September. In October, she was to have played two days of the Austin City Limits Music Festival and one day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The dates were all the shows she had planned for 2021.

“These are challenging times with challenging decisions that have to be made. I want everyone to be safe and healthy and the rising Covid cases should be of concern to all of us,” the 73-year-old singer said in the statement. “While I’m vaccinated, at my age, I am still being extremely cautious and for that reason have decided to skip the 5 performances I had planned for 2021.”

Most of the festivals themselves are moving forward with replacement headliners. Country star Chris Stapleton will take Nicks’ place at BottleRock.

“Because singing and performing have been my whole life, my primary goal is to keep healthy so I can continue singing for the next decade or longer,” Nicks’ statement said. “I’m devastated and I know the fans are disappointed, but we will look towards a brighter 2022.”

a tender and stirring coming-of-age tale about the only hearing member in a deaf family, might be the crowd-pleaser of the year, but it was only a few weeks ago that director Siân Heder saw it with an audience.

For months after its lauded premiere at a virtual Sundance Film Festival in January (where the movie fetched a Sundance record $25 million acquisition price and won the top prize ), Heder had heard from people who had watched “CODA” at home on a link about how the film moved them, how it made them cry, how important it is. But when she screened it in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where the film is set, she could finally hear something else: How big the laughs it gets are.

“You don’t really know that those work unless you’re sitting in a room full of people,” says Heder.

“CODA,” which arrives Friday in theaters and on Apple TV+, is poised to be something that’s been hard to find in a year light on crowds: a bona fide, heart-bursting, tell-everyone-about-it crowd-pleaser.

Starring a trio of sensational actors who are deaf -- Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant — “CODA” is also unlike most heart-on-its-sleeve movies before it. It’s a crowd-pleaser that expands just who’s in “the crowd,” enlarging a movie world that seldom depicts deaf lives dynamically or authentically. A landmark film in on-screen representation, “CODA” proves — with spirit and, yes, laughs — how much the movies have been missing.

“It takes more than one person to understand to make actors who are deaf cast in films. A lot of people just aren’t in the know. They don’t know that we can work just as easily as anyone else,” says Matlin with an interpreter. “I know — I don’t hope — that ‘CODA’ will change the landscape.”

Matlin, the only deaf actor to win an Oscar (for 1986’s “Children of a Lesser God”), knows something about watershed moments for the deaf community and Hollywood. And she’s convinced “CODA” marks something momentous. After years of reading scripts that — if they showed deaf people at all — only characterized them in simple, stereotypical ways, “CODA” immediately jumped out at her.

“I was overly excited, to the point that I called my team and said: Don’t let this script get away from us. I have to do it,” says Matlin.

In it, newcomer Emilia Jones plays the hearing daughter of a hardscrabble fishing family of two randy, funny, loving, deaf parents (Matlin, Kotsur) and her pugnacious, handsome, deaf brother Leo (Daniel Durant). Her just-developing dreams of singing seem at first like teenage rebellion. “If I was blind would you want to paint?” her mother asks.

“CODA,” which stands for “child of deaf adult(s),” is based on the 2014 French film “La Famille Bélier,” which used hearing actors to play the deaf parts. Heder, though, saw the potential to mine something more genuine from the story and to bring deaf actors to the forefront. She transferred the setting to the fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and made authenticity the abiding ethos. That meant shipping the cast out on fishing trips, but mostly it meant doing a lot of listening to the deaf community.

Heder worked with a master in American Sign Language while writing the script and spent months learning to sign. Matlin was the first person she cast.

“I came into it knowing what I didn’t know,” says Heder. “I was an outsider to this community. If I was going to be the person to tell this story, then I had to make sure that I was surrounding myself with people from this community and empowering their voices.”

“CODA” was first set up at Lionsgate but Heder is relieved it was ultimately made outside the studio system. For her, the thought of casting hearing leads -- a likely chance in a bigger production and once a possibility — was an empathic non-starter.