As confirmed covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in parts of the United States that re-opened seemingly too early with too few precautions put in place, seven states appear to be most at risk: Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, according to The Washington Post. Naturally, one of those states—Tennessee—is where country singer Chase Rice decided that deadly viral disease is un-American, and hosted a crowded concert (free of social distancing and masks) at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Thousands attended.
“We drastically reduced our maximum venue capacity of 10,000 to 4,000 maximum capacity (lower than the state’s advisement of 50%) with less than 1,000 in attendance Saturday night, providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level,” Brian May, vice president of the Brushy Mountain Group told NBC News. He added that temperature checks were put into place, and hand sanitizer was distributed. He also said that there were bandanas available for purchase.
Perhaps May made that comment without seeing any of the footage from the concert, which looks like a very “normal” concert in that no one is distancing and no one is wearing a mask. Country singer Kelsea Ballerini did, however, and decided to tweet about how “selfish” it is “to put thousands of people’s health at risk.” I always knew I liked her.
Reactions on Twitter appeared to be appropriately outraged. A Twitter user named @AlexFountain23, who has since made their account private, wrote, “I was there, it was a great concert. There was plenty of room for people who wanted to social distance. Masks do nothing. Can’t live in fear forever...,” NBC reports, “The venue was so large that if you wanted you could be 50 ft away from people at times... There are plenty more things out there that we could get sick from that’s worse than COVID. Chase Rice put on a great show!”
It’s true that live music venues will likely be the last of businesses to reopen; I struggle to envision that happening before there’s a vaccine in place. It is devastating, especially for those whose careers depend on live performance. Not only did Rice endanger his fans—his consumer base—but by putting these people at risk for infection, which they will no doubt transfer to others, he’s actively delaying any recovery period in which safe concerts could become a possibility. There’s no instant gratification during coronavirus, only coordinated action or continued illness and death. If he wants his concerts so badly, he should wait until its safe. But hey, Rice has a history of making dumb choices—remember when he was romantically linked to The Bachelor contestant who wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt? Yikes.