Mexico's version of Burning Man became a COVID-19 super-spreader event after at least 17 US attendees returned home and tested positive

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  • According to The Daily Beast, a music festival in Tulum, Mexico, turned into a COVID-19 super-spreader event.
  • Hundreds of attendees came to the Art With Me festival, which was held November 11-15. 
  • Eleonora Walczak, founder of Checkmate Health Strategies based in Miami and New York, the Daily Beast 60-70% of her positive COVID-19 patients in the last three weeks had gone to the festival. 
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A wellness, cultural immersion, and music festival in Tulum, Mexico, designed to “inspire and activate attendees,” has now been deemed a super-spreader event after at least 17 attendees tested positive for COVID-19 in the weeks following the festival. 

Videos of hundreds of maskless attendees at the Art With Me festival – often likened in spirit to Nevada’s Burning Man festival – circulated on platforms like YouTube shortly after the event, which ran November 11 to November 15.  

Less than a month later, The Daily Beast reports, doctors are noting an uptick in cases tied to the four-day festival.

Eleonora Walczak, a board-certified physician’s assistant and founder of Checkmate Health Strategies, a private testing facility in New York and Miami, told the Daily Beast: “I would say that 60 to 70 percent of my positives in the last couple weeks in New York City have been a direct result of either people coming back from Art With Me – or who have been directly exposed to someone who attended Art With Me.”

The festival included activities like group meditations (often with maskless attendees according to DJs at the event), cultural immersion experiences from local artists, and packed dancefloors filled with hundreds of attendees. 

“We are a community-driven festival that combines art, music, workshops, wellness, and cultural experiences into a 5-day and 4-night journey to inspire change, and nurture personal growth,” the festival’s mission statement reads. 

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While the event organizers had COVID-19 guidelines on the festival’s website to attempt the keep the “community” fostered at the even safe, multiple DJs told the Daily Beast social distancing rules were ignored. 

“The way that they’re jam-packed on the dance floor-it’s very dangerous during this time,” Anna Yeung-Cheung, a microbiologist, told The Daily Beast. “It sounds crazy to go to a party where you’re not tested for COVID. Needless to say, it seems they are pretty reckless in doing that. And it only takes one.”

Mexico has had 1,182,200 cases of COVID-19 as of December 8, along with 110,074 deaths. Quintana Roo, a state in Mexico known for tourist destinations including Cancún and Tulum, accounts for over 2,000 of those deaths. 

This year, Mexico’s COVID-19 rates steadily climbed between October and December – typically a high season for tourism to Quintana Roo, according to the travel site Travel + Leisure.

Organizers of Art With Me did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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