The state's official advocacy group for Minnesotans with disabilities won't have a presence at the State Fair this year.
The Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) on Friday announced that it had made the "difficult decision" not to attend the event due to "lack of leadership and policies" regarding COVID-19.
The group also shared its open letter to local leaders and State Fair officials, which calls for stronger pandemic measures at the Minnesota State Fair:
Throughout the summer, we looked to government leadership and State Fair leadership to create a safe and welcoming environment for Minnesotans with disabilities and aging Minnesotans. Unfortunately, our leaders have not stepped up to require masks, vaccines, or crowd limits at the State Fair.
MCD also calls out Minnesotans at large, saying they have resisted masking and vaccinations, "despite the disproportionate effect that COVID-19 has on Minnesotans with disabilities and aging Minnesotans."
"By not creating a safe place for all Minnesotans to gather, MCD’s presence at the State Fair this year would reinforce the message to society that the lives of people with disabilities are less important," the organization added.
"We cannot support the refusal to make hard decisions that will upset some but likely save many."
The letter also notes that Minnesota is "dangerously close" to passing a 5.0% positivity rate for the Delta variant of COVID-19, which would qualify under CDC guidelines as "substantial spread."
MCD finishes the message by calling the lack of stronger COVID-19 guidelines an "implicit message that Minnesotans with disabilities are asked not to attend" the State Fair.
"We believe that this letter can serve as a wake-up call to our leaders across government and the leadership of the State Fair that it is never too late to do the right thing and that society can and must do better," MCD writes.
The group also noted that it has attended the fair for "many years."
BringMeTheNews has reached out to the State Fair for comment.
MCD was established in 1973 by the state legislature to advise the government on disability issues, its website notes. Its mission is to "advocate for policies and programs in the public and private sectors that advance the rights of Minnesotans with disabilities."
The Minnesota State Fair is scheduled to be held Thursday, August 26, through Labor Day, September 6.