‘Not up to par’? Pickaway County Fair disputes links to COVID-19 outbreak

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canfield fair
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

*This story is developing.  Check back for updates.

**Updated 7/24, 9:15 a.m.

***Updated 7/28

Yesterday, Gov. Mike DeWine criticized early county fairs, saying a COVID-19 outbreak has already been connected to one, though he did not say which one. He also issued a statewide mask mandate for Ohio. 

This morning, the Pickaway County Fair, the first Ohio fair to proceed with a full or modified fair in June, disputed local health district reports linking the fair to an outbreak. 

In a Facebook post, the fair said that representatives for Pickaway County Public Health told county officials in a July 22 meeting that the fair’s execution of health standards was “not up to par.” 

In an after-action report on the fair, the health district said the fair board did not stick to requirements set in a June 4 planning meeting with the health district and other county officials. It said the county had 19 cases from fairgoers and three cases from family members of fairgoers. 

While the state was not requiring masks for all fair staff at the time of the fair, the health district gave the fair board additional guidance for the fair in the planning meeting that included having staff wear masks at entrances, according to the report.

At the fair, the district said in the report, fair staff did not wear masks or use hand sanitizer between customers at entrances. Additionally, there were several fair entrances and exits in the same area, instead of one designated entrance and exit, as discussed in the planning meeting.

In the planning meeting, the report said, officials decided that the fair board would not have bleacher seating, to help maintain social distancing. At the fair, however, bleacher seating was encouraged, and there wasn’t much social distancing in the bleachers.

The fair said according to the state’s guidelines for fairs, released in early June, it followed the rules. It noted one incident where a food vendor was not wearing masks, but said that the board addressed the issue after the health district brought it to their attention.

In the report, however, the health district said while it asked the fair board to fix the mask and bleacher situations, the board did not fix the problems.

The fair said that the health district did not directly contact it with information about links to an outbreak. The fair has requested a July 27 meeting with health district officials, county commissioners and the Ohio Fair Managers Association.

The Pickaway County Fair did not respond to requests for comment.

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