Just over two weeks since the Minnesota State Fair started (Aug. 26), the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 69 cases of COVID-19 that were likely contracted at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
"These cases are in people who reported attending the fair during the period in which they were most likely exposed and infected," MDH spokesperson Doug Schultz informed Bring Me The News on Friday. "We expect the number of cases associated with the Fair to increase in the coming days, as the Fair ended this past Monday."
Vaccines and masks were not required at the fair, though both were strongly encouraged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been encouraging outdoor mask-wearing at crowded events due to the transmissibility of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Speaking Thursday, MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said that three generations of transmission of the original coronavirus strain would typically infect approximately 27 people, while the delta variant spreads to an estimated 343 people in three generations of transmission.
"When going out in public, the best way to reduce your risk and prevent spread to others is to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and social distance," said Schultz. "In order to limit continued spread, Minnesotans should get tested 3-5 days after attending large gatherings."
The 2021 Minnesota State Fair saw its lowest total attendance figures since 1977, with a total of 1,301,584 attendees over the 12-day event. That figure is down about 36% from the attendance average over the previous four fairs.
Concerns over the delta variant — coupled with the fair's decision to not require masks or proof of vaccination — resulted in some entertainment acts, vendors and booth operators opting out of this year's get-together.
Five DFL lawmakers even wrote to fair organizers, expressing concern the fair could prove to be a "super-spreader event" without more stringent COVID mitigation measures.
Time will tell how much COVID-19 was spread at the fair.