A Missouri hospital just hit its all-time high for Covid cases. But the county fair that attracts thousands won’t be canceled

2 months ago 21
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By Neelam Bohra and Christina Zdanowicz, CNN

Amy Tignor remembers the crowds that attended the Ozark Empire Fair’s rides, concerts and livestock shows successful past years.

A nonmigratory of Springfield, Missouri, since 2005 and the operations manager of a section brewery, Tignor said thing could “drag her there” this year, adjacent though she’s afloat vaccinated.

“As you’re sitting successful a crowd, six retired of the 10 radical astir you astir apt haven’t been vaccinated,” Tignor told CNN. “And that conscionable seems similar a hazard that I’m not consenting to take.”

Springfield, wherever the Ozark Empire Fair volition beryllium held July 29 to Aug. 7, is successful Greene County, 1 of the state’s Covid hotspots.

Mercy Hospital successful Springfield recorded 148 affirmative Covid-19 cases arsenic of Thursday, an all-time high, said Sonya Kullmann, spokesperson for the hospital. Greene County presently has 4,663 progressive cases arsenic of Friday morning, according to its website.

The uptick successful cases is caused by the fast-spreading Delta variant; 95% of those cases were successful unvaccinated people, Kullmann said.

Greene County, with a completed vaccination complaint of astir 35%, has declared a section emergency. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson sent further beingness enactment ambulances and aesculapian unit to the country in mentation of rising cases.

But the fair, which volition diagnostic food, a Ferris instrumentality and an exotic petting zoo — marketed connected its website arsenic “summer’s biggest party” — volition not beryllium canceled.

“Amusements astir the state spell connected each time with mode bigger attendance, successful a batch much confined abstraction than what we offer,” Aaron Owen, wide manager of the fair, told CNN. “I’ve disquieted astir it all, I cognize (the Delta variant) is real. But farmers and agriculture folks enactment their livelihood astatine involvement connected this. There’s tons of factors that we person to instrumentality into consideration.”

The fair’s readying committee, abstracted from metropolis and region leadership, plans to person Covid-19 precautions successful place, Owen said. These see societal distancing and manus washing stations passim the park.

He said radical won’t beryllium required to deterioration look masks, though the just website had outdated Covid-19 guidance with disguise mandates that are nary longer successful place. The leafage was past updated successful April.

Owen said helium sold 70,000 tickets successful 2020 and says helium believes that determination was nary grounds of Covid spread, based connected conversations helium had with immoderate vendors aft the fair. More vendors volition beryllium successful attendance this twelvemonth than last.

Loverboy, a Canadian stone set primitively scheduled to play astatine the fair, has canceled its quality due to the fact that of Canadian question restrictions, according to KYTV.

In the meantime, the metropolis of Springfield has canceled its ain yearly event, the Birthplace of Route 66 festival. Cora Scott, the city’s nationalist accusation manager and an organizer of the festival, said expected attendance would person surpassed 65,000 people, with a parade that would person celebrated the efforts of healthcare workers during the pandemic.

“The Delta variant has fundamentally knocked america connected our heels,” Scott said. “I was disappointed that our assemblage was not astatine a constituent with vaccinations that we could person this celebration.”

In the coming week, Mercy Hospital’s information squad projects affirmative cases volition emergence to astir 190, Kullmann said. The infirmary has converted six units into Covid-19 attraction units, she said.

“We’re stretched astatine this point,” Kullmann said.

Dr. Alex Hover, president of the Missouri State Medical Association, said helium credits Springfield for canceling the Route 66 festival, and arsenic a nonmigratory of Springfield, helium won’t beryllium attending the Ozark Empire Fair.

“Hearing from the physicians connected (hospital) staff, it’s a large strain and the hospitals are surely astatine maximum capacity,” Hover said. “If the just goes connected and radical are going to attend, we would powerfully impulse that they disguise and effort to adhere to societal distancing arsenic overmuch arsenic possible.”

Nick Palmer lives successful adjacent Lawrence County and has aggregate chronic illnesses that enactment him astatine terrible hazard from Covid-19. Palmer said he’s disquieted astir the fair’s impacts connected hospitals and the availability of beds for radical who don’t person Covid.

“It reminds maine of the movie ‘Jaws,’ erstwhile the mayor’s like, ‘The beaches volition beryllium open,'” Palmer said. “The priorities are messed up. They’re much disquieted astir keeping the just going than astir what volition hap to the radical that spell there.”

Correction: An earlier mentation of this communicative misstated Amy Tignor’s occupation title. Tignor is the brewery’s operations manager.

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