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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Fair Board is planning to move ahead with the Dunn County Fair scheduled for July 21 through July 25.
Deb Gotlibson, chair of the Dunn County Fair Board, reported at the Dunn County Facilities Committee meeting held April 28 that she has been watching the fairs being held in the southern part of the United States right now.
Clay County in Florida had an attendance of 148,000 over 11 days, with the largest grandstand crowd ever of 15,269 people, she said.
Clay County officials were able to trace back 30 possible cases of COVID-19 that were linked to the fair, Gotlibson said, noting there was a positivity rate in Clay County of 6.1 percent at the time of the fair.
The positivity rate for SARS-CoV-2 is the percentage of people who test positive for the disease out of all of those who have been tested.
Public health officials say the positivity rate is not enough on its own to give a clear picture of how the virus is spreading in a particular area because the percentage depends on how many people are being tested. If fewer people are being tested, then it is quite possible there are other cases that not being detected.
Another metric that is used to measure SARS-CoV-2 is the activity rate, which is the number of cases per 100,000. “Critically high” is more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people. “Very high” is 350 cases per 100,000. “High” is more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, as of May 7, most counties in Wisconsin were currently at a “high” activity rate for the virus, although two counties, Polk and St. Croix, were at a “very high” rate, while Price County and Shawano County were at a “medium” rate.
As of May 7, the positivity rate was 10.7 percent based on the number of tests for the virus conducted in Wisconsin since the prior day.
Between April 21 and May 4, Dunn County’s activity rate was 142.9 per 100,000 people.
The Dunn County Fair Board is still planning to move ahead with the fair and is currently checking with vendors on their availability and their plans for keeping people safe, Gotlibson said.
“We’ll see how the numbers keep going in Dunn County,” she said.
Michael Rogers, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the facilities committee, asked how the fairs were run in Florida and whether masks were required.
At the Clay County fair in Florida, masks were recommended but not required, Gotlibson said, noting that most fair activities are held outside.
Clay County encouraged masks inside buildings and had certain protocols in place, but there was no mask requirement and there was no mask requirement for the county at the time of the fair, she said.
Rogers said he found it “interesting” there was a low infection rate with the few restrictions and said that it “bodes well” for the Dunn County Fair being able to move forward.
Gotlibson said she agreed and that she found it surprising with such a large fair in Clay County Florida.
The Dunn County Fair was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to the Dunn County Fair’s website, fairs have been held annually since 1925 except in 1916, 1917 and 1918.
The Dunn County Agricultural Society was formed June 19, 1885, and information in a 1925 Dunn County atlas states the group requested $3,500 from the Dunn County Board to purchase 50 acres of land east of Menomonie for the fairgrounds, according to the Dunn County Fair website.