SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Starting Friday, more than one million people are expected to head to the NYS Fairgrounds near Syracuse for the return of the New York State Fair. However, the 18-day celebration comes under the shadow of rising COVID-19 numbers.
Dr. Stephen Thomas loves the fair, but as Chief of Infectious Diseases at Upstate Medical University, he knows there is a risk for people who decide to go this year.
Thomas, who is also the Director for the Institute for Global Health and Translational Sciences, said everyone should assess their own risk factors.
“Only you and the people that you trust with your medical guidance can decide what your risk truly is or what ballpark it’s in and whether or not you’re willing to accept that to go to the fair,” said Thomas.
COVID-19 numbers are climbing locally and the more-contagious Delta variant is showing up in Central New York.
Thomas said the best defense against catching COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. However, he said it’s a good idea to use other strategies at the fair, too, like wearing a mask, spending a lot of the visit at outside attractions, and going during less popular times, even for people who are fully vaccinated.
“You can be infected,” said Thomas. “You can transmit to other people. The odds are you’re going to do fine if you’re vaccinated and infected, but the person you infect may not do fine.”
As families flock to the fairgrounds, Thomas said it’s important for children to take all the precautions they can, too, especially the ones who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. Thomas said despite misinformation from the anti-mask movement, children can get very sick or die from the virus.
“They’ve always maintained this illusion that kids are not at risk of infection,” said Thomas. “If they are at risk of infection, they’re not going to have a bad outcome. They’re not going to transmit to other people. That’s never actually been the case.”
Thomas said about 18% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. last week were children, and more than 1,800 children are currently being cared for in intensive care units.