Don’t hold the fair this year
State Senator Ed McBroom’s column in the Press on May 23 “See you at the fair” is really troublesome on so many levels. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.P. State Fair Authority’s executive committee, of which he is a member, is planning for the Fair in August. So, it’s business as usual. They claim they are minimizing risks by aggressively putting in place safe practices for the grounds, buildings, events and rides. Disinfecting all the bathrooms, every ride car after each ride cycle for adults and kids, each ring for the ring toss, all the vendor’s tables and seats after people have eaten, all railings in stock barns, all railings for keeping people in line for rides, limiting people coming and going into buildings with multiple entrances, maintaining 6′ distancing inside and in the midway is impossible. And 6 feet apart side to side and in front and back in the grandstand won’t happen. And none, none of it is enforceable.
I see fewer and fewer people in Gladstone and Escanaba wearing masks and sadly mask wearing has now become a political issue. This is a public health issue of enormous magnitude not a political issue, so it’s time for the all the county health departments, all our hospitals, doctors, nurses, emergency responders and community leaders throughout the U.P. to weigh in immediately to scrap the fair this year. Tough decisions when it comes to safety must be made now. Even Camp Batawagama has cancelled their wonderful opportunities for kids this year. The Fair Authority and Mr. McBroom should not place these kids at risk in August, nor anyone else for that matter. Sure, the fair is fun, however, there are circumstances at play now and it’s a totally different set of circumstances.
On May 6, John Hickner, MD and his wife Valerie submitted a letter to the editor titled “Don’t open the casino yet” and presented excellent and compelling health issues in these types of settings. And, he is the first and only physician in our medical community to come forth that I’m aware of, so hats off to him. He has my deepest respect. Not including the scores of workers and volunteers, the 92,000 fair attendees, or roughly 15,000 per day from last year’s figures, presents a dreadful risk of additional spreading of COVID-19 throughout the U.P. and northern Wisconsin. Our figures are declining, not from chance but from those following the measures recommended by the epidemiologists and the worldwide medical community battling this virus. But with cavalier approaches and encouraging words of “See you at the fair!”, just how much more needless loss of life and suffering is acceptable to us?