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It surely is a shame, but …

As one woman attending Monday evening’s Clark County Fair Board meeting said, “it’s such a shame” that the county’s youth must miss out on a fair experience this year because of a viral outbreak. Granted, it is, but which word would she use other than “shame” if the event was held and more people would get sick or even die because the county was too imprudent to cancel it? We could suggest some choices.

The 2020 Clark County Fair scheduled for Aug. 6-9 is now officially cancelled, by Monday’s Fair Board vote. That decision came three days after the county Board of Supervisors voted to end the county’s coronavirus public health emergency. Consistent those decisions are not, but credit the Fair Board with making the wise one.

The sheer size of the gatherings at a county fair is a main reason why this summer’s event should have been cancelled. With total attendances over the four days estimated at well over 10,000 people and individual happenings often drawing people into crowded spaces like market hogs to the bin at feeding time, the fair is as ripe an environment as Clark County has for the spread of a contagious virus, especially one not even close to having a cure. Social distancing could be attempted, but c’mon, let’s be real, this is an event centered around excited kids, and keeping them at arm’s length from each other would be as difficult as telling them they can’t have an ice cream cone at the dairy bar.

The argument can be made, yes, that people who do not feel comfortable with crowds can just stay home.That has merit, but so does the argument that not all people who should stay home, will. The county Health Department is already struggling to enforce quarantine orders against people in the county known to have contact with a COVID-19 patient, and there would be no means whatsoever to make sure they don’t enter the fairgrounds and have close contact with dozens or even hundreds of people. It’d be one thing if we could all count on people to do the right and proper thing, but not everyone abides by such rules of common decency. They put everyone at risk.

We agree that businesses in the area should be reopened, but only because they can control spaces and keep people distanced properly if they choose. That is not the case at a fair, or a large community festival, for that matter, and incidence rates of COVID-19 are still too high to give folks opportunities to congregate. With the fair’s scheduled start date less than six weeks away and no work even started on planning to mitigate risks, there was only one wise choice for the Fair Board to make. It is a shame for the kids, we agree, but it’d be something worse if they were sick in bed as a new school year approaches.

Next in line for a large gathering decision is the Loyal Corn Festival. There is a bit more time for organizers to wait to see how the virus spread develops or doesn’t, but again, coronavirus loves a crowd, and nothing around here attracts one like the Corn Fest.

Are organizers willing to put the public at that risk? We shall see.