'We think it’s a bad idea:' Washington State Hospital Association says to avoid mass events, state fair

The Washington State Health Association (WSHA) is advising people to avoid large gatherings, including the Washington State Fair that starts on Friday.

"Yes, we think it’s a bad idea. Anybody disagree with me?" asked Cassie Sauer, President of WSHA. Another member echoed Sauer’s thoughts and said, "I think it’s a very bad idea."

The Washington State Fair in Puyallup runs from Sept. 3 to Sept. 26. It draws hundreds of thousands of people in a day or over the duration of the season. 

"We understand the concern of some, on the Fair being held. We will continue to put safety and health first, as we’ve always done," said Stacy Van Horne, Public Relations Manager for the WA State Fair.

Van Horne said the Fair is a huge economic driver in the state, provides employment and scholarships and brings businesses to Pierce County.

Fair workers will wear a mask at all times, rides will be sprayed down regularly and there are more than three dozen hand Washington stations throughout the grounds, according to Van Horne.

RELATED: Washington fairgrounds prepare for crowds and COVID mitigation

Still, health officials on the WSHA call on Monday voiced their concerns. 

"People should be incredibly cautious about going to any kind of mass gathering right now. I don’t think any of us are going to anything that qualifies as that right now, and anywhere we go we’re wearing a mask, always, always, always," said Sauer. "This is a very human-driven disease, and so the more people wear their masks, stay home, don’t go to the Puyallup fair and get vaccinated. Those are things that will help mute the surge, for sure."

Dr. David Carlson said mass events have the ability to spread COVID, and we won’t know the full impact right away.

"These things have a lag of a couple of weeks before they impact us," said Carlson, the Senior VP of MultiCare Health System. "So my worry is in the course of the next couple weeks, we’ll start to see a trend downward only to see that reverse and then go back up when there’s more and more activity."

Q13 News reached out to the largest sporting venues in our region.

A spokesperson at T-Mobile Park said the stadium is urging all fans to comply with the latest state order to wear masks indoors, and also strongly encouraging fans to wear masks at all times. All employees are now required to wear masks on event days regardless of vaccination status.

"We are relying on the advice of public health authorities as well as medical experts who have consulted with us for the last year and a half," said Rebecca Hale, Sr. Director of Public Information with the Seattle Mariners. "As we have from the start of the pandemic, we are prepared to implement further health and safety protocols as needed." 

Mariners fans at Monday night’s game said they feel comfortable attending the large event.

"We need to get out and live our lives. We’ve been doing this for a year-and-a-half. We got the vaccines, we’ve got the mask. If you’re concerned, don’t go out," said Dan Lucas of Gig Harbor.

"If you’re comfortable with it and you feel fine, I don’t see a problem with it as long as you’re masked," said Dalen Newton.

"Risk evaluation and how comfortable you are," said Megan Newton, "So, you know, there’s no right or wrong."

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