PULLMAN - A warning from Washington’s Secretary of Health to expect the ban on large gatherings to continue for the rest of the year has led to an effort to revamp Whitman County’s 2020 Palouse Empire Fair.
The Whitman County Commissioners discussed the fair during their meeting Tuesday. The board decided to delay their decision about the fair for another month. One of their main concerns was a statement made Monday by Washington Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman. Commissioners Michael Largent and Art Swannack took part in a Washington Association of Counties webinar regarding coronavirus on Monday.
Governor Jay Inslee has announced his 4 phase plan to reopen the state. Gatherings of over 50 people and large sporting events aren’t allowed until phase 4. The plan requires a minimum 3 week monitoring period between each phase. The state as a whole is expected to move to phase 2 of re-opening on June 1.
Commissioner Swannack stated that during Monday’s webinar Dr. Wiesman warned county officials around the state that gatherings over 50 will likely be banned for the rest of the year. You can read Swannack's comment below:
"One of the participants yesterday was Secretary Wiesman and when we were talking about all of the different COVID issues our counties are facing, Secretary Wiesman was given the opportunity to comment for a while and to take some questions. One of the questions that I submitted was, what are the conditions necessary for us to go to Phase 4 in 2020? That's when he stated he believes it is not likely that we will go to Phase 4 in 2020."
Given the warning that large gatherings in Washington could potentially be banned for the rest of 2020 the commissioners ordered the fair board to come up with a new plan. The fair board has until June 15 to come up with a proposal to operate the Palouse Empire Fair under phase 3 restrictions which only allows gatherings up to 50 people. The county commissioners will then make a final decision regarding the fair.
The annual Palouse Empire Fair is held each September outside Colfax.