A surge in COVID-19 infections has overwhelmed Puerto Rico, with cases ballooning by 4,600% last month. Likely contributing to the spike: Bad Bunny‘s two-day “P FKN R” concert in mid-December, where an estimated 2,000 people — 2.5% of the roughly 80,000 that attended the event — contracted the virus, according to The New York Times.
The sobering numbers come even after the event — which took place Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at the Estadio Hiram Bithorn — followed strict COVID-19 protocols and safety measurements. The Noah Assad Presents and Move Concerts-produced concert required all concert attendees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or an official Vacu-Id provided by CESCO Digital. The promoters also implemented mandatory masks, even when on the field and during the concert. “Those who don’t wear a mask will be removed from the event and fined $100,” according to measures laid out by the organizers.
While people followed mask rules at the entrance and at the Bad Bunny Museum (located inside the stadium), on the event’s first night when Billboard was in attendance, the majority of attendees ditched their masks once at their seats. During that show, while event staff was strict about checking COVID-19 vaccination cards at the entrance, there was little enforcement of mask mandates within the venue.
Holiday parties and family gatherings during the festive season also likely contributed to the increase in cases. According to Harvard University statistician Rafael Irizarry, one-third of Puerto Rico’s COVID-19 cases throughout the entirety of the pandemic occurred in December. Also, during that month, hospitalizations increased. Overall, about 75% of Puerto Rico’s population is fully vaccinated, a higher rate than California (68%) and New York state (72%), according to Johns Hopkins University.
Daily cases per 100K in Puerto Rico jumped from 3 to 225 in just 3 weeks and hospitalizations are starting to increase. Preliminary hospitalization data from the week ending Dec 17 show vaccines work against omicron and the importance of boosters. Updates: https://t.co/XjnyF0R5K8 pic.twitter.com/bUkIdpUDBQ
— Rafael Irizarry (@rafalab) December 29, 2021
Puerto Rico’s increase in COVID-19 cases coincides with a surge in coronavirus infections across the U.S. States such as New York, Florida, Illinois and California have also reported a spike in cases in just the past few weeks with the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant.