Puerto Rican festival could be COVID ‘superspreader’ say some leaders, organizers

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With the Puerto Rican festival set to kick off this weekend, some leaders are concerned about the venue— La Marketa. They say this could lead to a COVID superspreader event if the city doesn’t change the location.

Albert Algarian is with the North Clinton Business Association. He says the center of the Puerto Rican Festival is the new ‘la Marketa.’ He says from a business perspective, this is good, but for public health, not so much. 

“We’re not against it at all. But, we’re more worried about safety. We’re more worried about COVID,” he says.

He says the international marketplace can only hold about 350 people. This area will be designated for about 1,500 come festival time. Algarian says over the course Puerto Rican festival, it is expected 30,000 people will take part.

Other locations he says, like Parcel 5, would be more appropriate for the expected crowds. He says to those planning on coming: “Please wear your mask. We want you to be safe.”

Monroe County Legislator-elect Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons says the team Thursday has partnered with organizations to help pass out kits with masks and germicide. The goal is to limit the spread. She’s also worried about the potential for violence. 

“We’d love that the festival moves forward, but we hope that it’s a different location— a venue that’s appropriate for the scale,” says Simmons.

The area they say, has a very low COVID vaccination rate when compared to the regional population. Algarian says he’s heard vaccine clinics are planned in some capacity.

“People are giving the shot if they need it, if they want it,” he says.

Algarian says before we have a COVID cluster on our hands, the city needs to find a bigger spot. “If we don’t take those precautions that I’m talking about, it could be a super spreader.”

The Puerto Rican Festival kicks off this Saturday.

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