Doctors concerned ahead of massive Garth Brooks concert as country star reassesses tour due to COVID surge


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of fans plan to welcome one of country music’s biggest stars to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City this weekend. More than 60,000 people are expected to be cheering when Garth Brooks takes the stage Saturday night.

The country star said he will be reassessing whether to continue his tour because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, but is still scheduled to play the next two shows in Kansas City and Lincoln, Nebraska. However, he is not putting tickets on sale for the next planned stop, Seattle in September.

Brooks was already scheduled to take a three-week break after the Aug. 14 show in Nebraska and will take that time to assess what to do about the remainder of the dates in 2021. He is also scheduled to play Cincinnati; Charlotte, North Carolina; Baltimore and Boston.

“It breaks my heart to see city after city go on sale and then have to ask those sweet people and the venues to reschedule,” Brooks said in a statement. “We have a three week window coming up where we, as a group, will assess the remainder of the stadium tour this year. It’s humbling to see people put this much faith in you as an artist, and it kills me to think I am letting them down.”

Brooks, one of the biggest selling entertainers in music, restarted touring in July and regularly performs in front of 60,000-70,000 people per stadium. Many of his shows sell out well in advance.

While the Kansas City Chiefs recommend masks for anyone attending the concert who isn’t vaccinated, masks are not required inside the stadium, even with Kansas City’s mask mandate. Arrowhead is considered an outdoor facility, and the city’s emergency order only mandates masks indoors.

But the anticipated lack of masks at the popular concert concerns some Kansas City doctors.

“Here’s my personal preference: If you’re in a really big public space like that, with a whole lot of people, I think I’m gonna wear a mask there,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, said.

Stites also pointed out that the concert is outdoors and said that’s the one promising aspect from a safety standpoint. Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infection prevention medical director at KU Health System, agreed.

“Unless there is a pit area where there is no specific seat but you are all crammed together, I think you’re a little more dense at this point in time, you’re a little bit more close together, probably easier to spread,” Hawkinson said. “But I would think areas such as seats or the walkways or things of that nature, you’re probably gonna be safe, just understand that situation around you.”

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According to the Chiefs’ website, workers will sanitize high-touch areas before and during the concert. There will also be hand sanitizer available throughout the stadium.

One thing that some might not be aware of is the state of Kansas still requires people to quarantine if they are not vaccinated, but are attending a mass gathering out of state where masks and social distancing are not practiced.

The Garth Brooks concert at Arrowhead, in neighboring Missouri, meets those quarantine requirements.

The Chiefs and Kansas City, Missouri Health Department plan to hold a vaccination clinic Saturday before the concert begins. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted that he expects anyone vaccinated at Saturday’s clinic to have a chance to win seat upgrades in a raffle.

Lollapalooza was held in Chicago over a span of four days last week. Officials said about 385,000 people attended the event — about 100,00 each day.

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