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The Washington State Fair is back! If you’re going, we’ve got tips to minimize your risk.

The Washington State Fair is back! The rides! The food! The rodeo! The masks!

COVID-19 means the fair looks a little different this year. Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, issued a health order that requires everyone to wear masks at all times at the fair. That means indoors and outdoors, vaccinated or not.

The order came from a joint effort between the Health Department, Washington State Fair, Pierce County, the City of Puyallup and Central Pierce Fire & Rescue. These agencies want fairgoers to enjoy themselves but take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Pierce County’s case and hospitalization rates are at their highest since the pandemic began. Your decision to attend is a personal one. If you’ve decided to take part in the fair’s 120-year-old tradition, we have tips to help you reduce the risk and still enjoy yourself.

More than masks.

Dr. Chen had a simple reason for the mask order: Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19.

A study released last week provides more support for their effectiveness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the Delta variant is more infectious and highly transmissible.

Masks are more important than ever. When you wear one at the fair, you’ll reduce your own risk and that of everyone around you.

But masks aren’t the whole solution.

If you feel sick and have symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, don’t go to the fair, and make sure you get tested.  Even if your symptoms are minor or you’ve been vaccinated, you can still spread the virus.

Crowds are a part of the fair. It’s fun to wander the midway, take in the exhibits, or hop on a ride. Keeping physically distant might be rough. But it’s important, especially indoors. It offers another layer of protection for you and your family.

Be very cautious of crowded indoor spaces like barns. Do everything you can to stay 6 feet away from others when you wait in line for food or rides or attend concerts. If an attraction you want to see is crowded, try again when the crowd thins out.

Food is another big draw at the fair. Who can resist scones, elephant ears, Krusty pups and Earthquake Burgers?

You should do all you can to lower your risk when you remove your mask to eat. Avoid lines and look for food stands that are less crowded. Eat outdoors, and avoiding eating inside the barns. Even when you’re outdoors, look for quieter spots to eat.

You’ll see many handwashing and sanitizing stations. Use them, especially before and after you eat and go on rides. Take every chance to wash your hands with gusto.

Beyond the fair.

These tips also help protect you when you’re not at the fair. That’s why Dr. Chen issued a health order Friday that went into effect Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, requiring you to wear a mask at outdoor events with 500 or more people if you’re 5 or older.

Vaccination is your best tool to stay safe. Since Feb. 1, more than 90% of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide are among people who aren’t fully vaccinated. Pierce County’s numbers are consistent with state numbers.

More of you have gotten vaccinated during the past 3 weeks, but more people still need to get it done. If you have not been vaccinated, please take this step now to protect your own health and those around you. You can find your dose at the fair or on our website.

And take every step you can keep our community safe:

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