Hospital official calls events like State Fair ‘very bad idea.’ It will still go on

PUYALLUP, Wash. — Mass events such as the Washington State Fair are ‘a very bad idea,’ one health official said during a briefing on Monday. It’s still scheduled to happen next month.

Dr. David Carlson, senior vice president, provider enterprise and chief physician officer for Tacoma-based MultiCare, said during the Washington State Hospital Association briefing that the fair would bring in an additional million people to Puyallup.

MultiCare runs Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, which has about 100 COVID-19 patients. Carlson said “the hospital is full.”

“I am very, very concerned about the stress that will put on our emergency room, and the stress it will put on our systems because undoubtedly a number of those people are going to need care for routine stuff — cuts and bumps and broken arms, legs,” Carlson said. “Likely somebody is going to think that they are having a heart attack or chest pain or a stroke or a seizure or something else. God forbid there’s a mass event.”

Cassie Sauer, Washington State Hospital Association CEO, also called events like the fair “a bad idea,” during the WSHA briefing.

“People should be incredibly cautious about going to any kind of mass gathering right now,” Sauer said. “I think that none of us are going anywhere that qualifies as that and anywhere we go, we’re wearing a mask, always, always, always.”

Stacy Van Horne, public relations manager for the Washington State Fair, said the fair had no comment on health officials saying the fair might spread COVID-19. The fair has been planning the September return for some time, she said.

“We’re going to do it as safely as possible,” Van Horne told The News Tribune.

The fair is following the state’s guidelines on requiring masks in indoor spaces. The fair also recommends masks in outdoor spaces where people are unable to socially distance themselves.

“The Washington State Fair is committed to maintaining a safe and clean environment for our staff, guests and the larger community. As part of this commitment, we continue to have rigorous standards for sanitation and cleaning,” according to the State Fair’s website.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department spokesperson Karen Irwin said in a statement Monday: “We’ve worked closely all summer with our partners at the Washington State Fair to help them ensure a safe and healthy environment. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are climbing at an alarming rate. We continue to offer guidance to our partners at the fair based on what is happening in our community to help protect the health and safety of everyone in Pierce County.”

Staff writer Debbie Cockrell contributed to this report.

This story was originally published by The News Tribune.