Immune-only concerts, festivals, and events exploding: ‘If you’re not wearing the CDC immunity bracelet, forget it’

‘CDC immunity bracelet’ is chapter 20 of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes.

April 13, 2021

A CDC-approved immunity bracelet is the only identification you need at Lollapallooza this year. Same with Coachella, Electric Zoo, and even Burning Man.

“Usually they’re checking on your event tag to see if you’re allowed in the performance,” one festival attendee said at the entrance to Grant Park. “Now they’re only looking for the CDC immunity bracelet.”

Conferences, festivals, and music shows this year are limiting attendance to people who can prove that they’ve either been vaccinated for Coronavirus or COVID-19, or who have had it and been certified immune by a CDC-approved test administered by an authorized doctor. One way to show compliance is by wearing the immunity bracelet, available from the CDC.

Civil rights activists and privacy advocates say this is discriminatory, but most attendees agree with the decision.

Whether it’s legal or not, however, is another question.

A festival attendee with a home-made “immunity bracelet.” She was asked to leave by security.

“Lack of immunity from a disease has never before been a cause for discrimination,” says Lucy Fong, a civil rights lawyer with the ACLU. “We haven’t encountered it before, and we’re not quite sure what to do about it.”

About 35% to 45% of the U.S. population still does not have Coronavirus immunity, and is therefore at risk of COVID-19. Some of those are anti-vaxxers who don’t believe in vaccines, and others simply lack health insurance. And many others still feel that the novel Coronavirus pandemic was overblown by the media, or a Democratic hoax, or just another flu, in spite of the fact that well over 250,000 Americans have died over the past 12 months due to COVID-19.

Festival organizers say this is not an attempt to discriminate but simply a public safety precaution. Allowing non-immunes to ignore social distancing regulations and congregate in large numbers would potentially overwhelm local hospitals and health organizations with a fresh wave of Coronavirus sick.

Others question the security arrangements, however.

“No-one can fake a bracelet?” concert-goer Sheila Adams asked me today in Chicago. “Or steal one? This is ridiculous … anyone can get a bracelet that looks like the CDC-immune ones off Etsy for about $35. And boom … you’re in.”

According to the CDC, however, those fakes don’t stand up to close scrutiny. In addition, they also don’t have the right Bluetooth chip that pings medical security devices with an “OK-immune” response.

So they’re really only good for casual visual inspection from a distance, a CDC source told me.

Organizers say they’re between a rock and a hard place. They’d like to open events to everyone, but their insurance requirements — and local city bylaws — require them to install medical security devices at all entrances and exits, ensuring that non-immune don’t get in.

Given how many non-immunes there still are in the country and entire world, that’s might not be a bad idea. But it is yet another invasion of our privacy and rights as a result of Coronavirus.

Again, this is a chapter of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes.

 


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