FAIR HILL — Just as the nine-day run of the Cecil County Fair drew to a close on Saturday evening, July 31, a notice went out that someone at the fair had tested positive for COVID-19.
Little can be said about the circumstances of the discovery because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which prevents the disclosure of personal medical information.
“Thus far there are 2 linked confirmed positives. There is an additional case that reported attendance at the fair but it’s not clear if that is where the initial exposure happened,” said Daniel Coulter, spokesman for the Cecil County Health Department. Coulter said Sunday that the investigation has been turned over to the Maryland Health Department.
In the statement issued by the county health department, those who attended the fair at any point are being told to observe themselves for symptoms of the novel coronavirus: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulty, tiredness, muscle or body aches, loss of the ability to taste or sense of smell, sore throat, congested or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
“We are not asking individuals attending the fair to quarantine for 14 days, but monitor for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop,” Coulter said.
As of Monday, Cecil County’s seven-day positivity rate was 6.07% with a seven-day case rate at 9.72 per 100,000 population. Compare that to June 17 when the positivity was .84% with a case rate of 1.39 persons per 100,000.
Don Moore, president of the Cecil County Fair board of directors, said the board was notified Saturday as well that some among the more than 85,000 who attended had tested positive.
“Hey, you can go to Walmart and test positive,” Moore said.
Moore said people obviously needed to get outside and be entertained and thanks to the weather not only was attendance up but participation was great at the auctions.
“The livestock auction was very well-attended,” Moore said, noting that moving that 4-H event from Friday night to Saturday at noon didn’t hurt either.
“We heard from folks who said they had trouble getting here after work,” he said of the evening hour and the Demolition Derby traffic. “We listened.”
The Cecil County Health Department has free at-home test kits, which can be ordered online at https://bit.ly/3yiK2pN. Self test kits also can be obtained by calling 410-996-1005 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
In recent weeks, after the positivity rate for infections dropped below 1% in June, the rate has now jumped to 5.59% with a seven-day tally of 8.89 per 100,000 people.
There was a clinic at the fair most days offering the three Emergency Use Approval vaccines for free. By midweek, more than 50 people had taken the offer and received vaccinations.