After looking at some of the states firing back up with COVID-19 again, I must voice my concern about the Nebraska State Fair. Of course, with the pandemic so raw with all of us, and especially in Grand Island, since it was a hot spot, you all are still kind of weary, as is the whole country, so we are nervous about the virus coming back with a vengeance.

The State Fair brings to Grand Island and the fair $20 million to $22 million. I understand that is an exceptionally large amount of money for our state, since last year’s fair was not as well as attended with the rain and flooding. I understand that Iowa has postponed their state fair to 2021. Their fair brings $100 million to their state.

They have taken into consideration the consequences of the large number of people gathering. All fairs have hundreds of people who come from other states, further contaminating their state, and that could cause another shutdown and return to Phase 1. It is my belief that our state is opening too fast just so everyone can think they are getting back to normalcy, though we will never have the normal we had before the pandemic. The governor is looking to push our state through the phases as fast as he can so the fair will go on and giving a false sense of security.

I feel this could happen to our state if we are not careful. I know I still am scared enough that I have not moved much past Phase 1, and many are just as afraid. I do not want another shutdown in our state.

Only in Phase 4 can you have parades, carnivals, midways, beer gardens. There is still 6-foot social distancing, so what would the fair have to offer that would draw 300,000 people to the Nebraska State Fair?

The pandemic is not gone. Many states, especially Georgia, Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Arizona, are reporting large number of infections now as they have tried to relax regulations.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found more than 20,400 infections across 216 meatpacking plants in 33 states. Across the United States, some of the highest spikes in coronavirus cases recently occurred in counties with one or more meatpacking plants — Buena Vista County, Iowa; Beadle County, S.D.; Yell County, Ark.; and Titus County, Texas, for example. All saw their case counts more than double in the past two weeks.

President Trump said at his Tulsa, Okla., campaign rally Saturday that the U.S. has tested 25 million people, but the “bad part” is that it found more cases. I feel if we did more testing on everyone, we would not have advanced to the phases we are at now.

People need to know other ways they can support the Nebraska State Fair and possibly the vendors. Make a list of the vendors who are normally there with a link as to how we can get hold of them, with ways we can donate to the fair as well.

I know there are a million different scenarios that need to be considered, but what I feel need to be taken into consideration are: attendance, social distancing on buses, waiting in line for the restroom sanitation regularly, standing in line for food, but you cannot do that because there is no midway, wearing face masks in the heat, limiting crowds at free stages, buildings or at the concerts, and making hand sanitizer with the proper alcohol content available everywhere.

Has anyone done surveys to the public to see if Nebraska feels comfortable in attending the 2020 fair?

My mom and I have had a booth at the fair, we are both at high-risk, she is 74 and I am 52. I would not feel comfortable putting our lives and anyone else’s lives in jeopardy by attending.

Holly Johnson is a former Grand Island resident and now lives in Berwyn. She has been a vendor at the Nebraska State Fair. This is an edited version of a letter she sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts, Mayor Roger Steele, the Nebraska State Fair Board and the Central District Health Department.

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