State releases formal order on fairs

MIAMI COUNTY — While Miami County Fair Manager Nick Shellenberger spoke with the Miami County Commissioners on Thursday morning about plans to move forward with the Miami County Fair to hold both a junior and senior fair until there was a formal order from the state, the state released the formal order from Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday evening mandating that county fairs be limited to junior fairs only.

For fairs beginning on or after July 31, agricultural societies will have to limit fairs to allow only participation by individuals who participate in either 4-H, FFA, or other youth organizations.

Miami County Health Commissioner Dennis Propes on Friday said the fair’s previous COVID-19 operation plans could have worked with the community’s cooperation, but he also agreed with DeWine’s latest precautions.

“We do believe the fair had a plan that could have worked, provided everyone that attended followed the guidelines and abided by the orders,” Propes said. “That being said, I agree with this decision by the governor to restrict the fairs to Junior Fair activities only, we have seen in other county fairs across the state that social distancing and mask usage is not occurring and outbreaks are occurring.”

Propes added Miami County Public Health (MCPH) shares the feelings with the rest of the community about the limitations the fair is now facing. He also encouraged the use of face masks and social distancing to help the community make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand the importance of the fair and other events that have been canceled or modified during the COVID response to the community,” Propes said. “We are just as saddened and upset as everyone else, we and our families love going to the fair and are disappointed that they are not occurring as they have in the past. We need everyone in the community to work together in social distancing and mask usage to get past this pandemic.”

In addition to junior fair activities, the state is also permitting food vendors to be on site, but licensed concessions, including midway and carnival games, are not permitted. Food vendors must cease operations at 10 p.m., which is also what the state’s order has established as the curfew for these junior fairs.

The order also states elderly people and those who are vulnerable as a result of illness should take additional precautions. The order urges those individuals to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases as people grow older. People with the following health conditions are also at risk of developing a severe illness from the virus;

• People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma;

• People with a serious heart condition;

• People who are immune compromised;

• People who are obese or have a body mass index of 30 or higher;

• People with diabetes;

• People with Sickle Cell disease;

• People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis;

• People with liver disease; and

• Women who are pregnant.

The order also reiterates the state’s face mask mandate. According to DeWine’s order and guidelines provided by MCPH, all individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when:

• At an indoor location that is not a residence, or a camper, as campers are permitted with the state’s new order;

• Outdoors, but unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members; or

• Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, such as a taxi, a car service, or a private car used for ride-sharing.

The order only requires those 10 years old or older to wear a mask. Additional exclusions include:

• Those with a medical condition or a disability or those communicating with someone with a disability;

• Those who are actively exercising or playing sports;

• Those who are officiants at religious services;

• Those who are actively involved in public safety; or

• Those who are actively eating or drinking.

In regard to the state’s face mask mandate, Shellenberger on Thursday said, “It’s not my mandate to enforce.” He added the fair will have a limited number of extra face masks on hand during the fair.

Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak also released a memo in July reminding residents not to call 9-1-1 to report individuals who are not wearing a face covering as they also do not plan to enforce the state’s mask mandate. The enforcement authority for violations of the public health order is MCPH, Duchak stated. MCPH can be contacted at (937) 573-3500 or visit their website at miamicountyhealth.net.

The order also provided a checklist for activities covered under this order, which includes junior fair animal exhibitions, but it limits livestock exhibitions to 10 exhibitors in the show ring at one time. Each participant must also perform a daily symptom assessment, which includes taking temperature, monitoring for fever, and watching for coughing or trouble breathing. Anyone experiencing symptoms must stay home, the order states.

Other activities permitted include Skillathons, auctions, non-animal exhibitions, harness racing, and camping. Seating in the auction areas are limited to buyers and immediate family members unless the building capacity allows for more while following social distancing guidelines, the order states. The order recommends having virtual auctions if possible, but the order permits use of the grandstands for the limited purpose of auctions and animal exhibitions.

In regard to harness racing, the general public in-person spectators, including the junior fair participants and family members, will not be permitted to watch the races. Fair boards are encouraged to use technology to broadcast the races, the order states.

This order went into effect on Friday.

The Miami County Agricultural Society will be meeting on Tuesday evening. Shellenberger declined to comment on Friday.

For more information or to view the full order, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.