MDH: Minnesota State Fair brings concerns of increased COVID-19 spread

Minnesota State Fair crowds. (FOX 9)

The Minnesota State Fair is being billed as the "Great Minnesota Get Back Together," but there’s concern that fairgoers will get infected with COVID-19 together.

"I think the honest answer to that is yes," said Jan Malcolm, the Minnesota Department of Health commissioner.

The state’s top health leaders say COVID-19 cases are up 11 percent in the past week. While the amount of vaccine doses being administered are also up nearly double from a month ago, Malcolm says large public gatherings are an inherent risk.

"Based upon what we’ve seen in other communities with large events and even here in Minnesota… of course, we are concerned," said Malcolm.

In Chicago, health officials have traced more than 200 COVID-19 infections to the Lollapalooza music festival.

In Minnesota, the department of health reports it’s traced nine cases and one hospitalization to the country music festival WE Fest. Another 13 Minnesota cases have been traced to the recent Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota.

Given that more than 700,000 bikers attended Sturgis this year, 13 Minnesota cases is low.

But the state fair attendance is even higher. That’s why health officials are recommending a layered approach even for those who are vaccinated. It includes wearing masks indoors and social distancing while outdoors.

"If we have a situation where there are many, many unvaccinated individuals who attend the fair and choose to not mask and not follow some of the mitigation guidance, that could have a different impact," said Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director at MDH.

Ehresmann is also recommending that people who attend the fair get tested three to five days later to make sure they are not infected and spreading the virus.