IONIA, Mich. — An outbreak of COVID-19 cases has been connected to the Ionia Free Fair.
The free fair was held July 16-24.
According to the Ionia County Health Department, at least 10 cases of COVID-19 have been connected to this year’s fair attendees, including individuals who were at the festival while they were symptomatic and infectious.
"We expect that number to increase. How much? I can’t say yet," said Ionia County Health Department's Health Officer Ken Bowen.
The health department said those who attended the Ionia Free Fair may have been exposed to the virus and are encouraging attendees who have not been fully vaccinated to get tested. Fully vaccinated individuals who start experiencing symptoms should also get tested for the coronavirus.
"If you were at the free fair, at any point during the event, if you develop any kind of COVID symptoms, we recommend you get tested, and really it might not be a bad idea to get tested period if you attended the free fair," said Bowen.
Symptoms of the coronavirus usually appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may include: fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Raul Alvarez, spokesman for the fair, told Fox 17 he hopes the number of cases linked to the fair doesn't increase.
The Ionia Free Fair was contacted by the local health department today regarding ten cases of COVID that they have traced to this year's Fair. We wish those affected a speedy recovery, and urge any fairgoers who may be experiencing symptoms to seek testing and immediate medical attention if necessary. With between 350,000 and 400,000 estimated in attendance over the Fair's nine days of activities and the virus's incubation period only days away, we are hopeful that the number of cases will not increase past the number reported today.
The health department said it is not known if those cases are the Delta variant as they haven't been sent in for sequencing yet.
"We are seeing increasing number of breakthrough cases with the Delta variant, still very small percentage, but it seems to be more possible to get breakthrough cases with the Delta variant than it has been with some past variants," said Bowen.
Ionia County is one of the many counties in Michigan currently in a substantial risk for COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's tracker.
There are 10 other counties in West Michigan that are also under substantial risk including Muskegon, Allegan, Barry and Kalamazoo counties.
"I would just recommend that if you're in a large group of people, particularly if you have not been vaccinated that you were a mask. Really, the best advice I can give is that if you have not been vaccinated, and you are medically able to get vaccinated, you need to get vaccinated," said Bowen.
Bowen said the way to get out of the pandemic is through vaccination.
If you have not yet been vaccinated and are able, you can visit your local health department's website to see where you can get yours.