Missouri will have a youth livestock show instead of a state fair this year as officials cut back on the event because of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.


The Missouri Department of Agriculture, which as recently as July 9 was issuing news releases promoting early carnival ticket sales, pivoted away from a full-scale fair on Friday.


"We care deeply about the public health and safety of our fairgoers and our community," the statement issued by the department read. "When the original decision to move forward with the fair was made, the information and numbers were different than they are now."


The announcement came after Friday’s report of new COVID-19 cases showed the week would set a new high for cases per day. The state set another new daily high on Saturday, with 958 infections reported by the Department of Health and Senior Services.


Missouri reported more than 5,000 new cases in the past seven days, an average of 731 per day. The previous week, which was also a new high, saw 559.7 cases per day.


When the department announced June 11 that the fair would be held as scheduled, the state had fewer than half the 32,248 cases reported through Saturday. The average number of new cases each day that week was 195.


Also, at the time of the June 11 announcement, the positivity rate on tests was averaging about 3.67 percent. As of July 8, the latest date with reliable information posted by the state health department, the positivity rate over the previous seven days was 6.5 percent.


In Pettis County, where the fair is held, there were 24 new positive cases reported Friday and 76 active infections.


All the major activities of the fair —opening day ceremonies, grandstand shows and Governor’s Ham Breakfast — have been canceled.


The other major reason the fair is being canceled, the department stated, is because vendors and exhibitors are canceling plans to attend.


"The Fair takes pride in hosting a quality outdoor experience for all fairgoers," the department stated. "That success relies heavily on the support of our partners, sponsors and vendors. As those supporters have evaluated the effect the pandemic has had on their ability to participate, many have had to limit or cancel their participation."


While daily case counts continue to climb statewide, after experiencing 266 new cases in the week of July 5 to July 22, Boone County reported 145 new infections in the seven days ending Saturday. Despite the slackening pace of new cases, the average of 20.7 new cases per day is the second-highest during the pandemic.


With 306 active cases and 634 in quarantine for possible exposure, there is now more than one person out of every 200 in Boone County in isolation because of the disease.


On Monday evening, the Columbia City Council will have one measure on its agenda that shows a return to normal city operations and a report on efforts for long-term recovery.


The council will vote on whether to re-impose rider fares on the Go COMO transit service. Those fares have been waived since March.


The "ESF-14 Long Term Recovery Committee," a 17-member body with representatives of city governments, businesses, not-for-profit agencies and education,


In a report to the council, the group reported on issues and needs in three major categories, economy and the workforce, community infrastructure, and housing.


The report examines access to business funding and job opportunities, the status of schools and child care, among other services, and evidence that the pandemic had aggravated existing issues around the availability of affordable housing.


"The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified and accelerated pre-COVID challenges across multiple sectors and is adversely impacting lower income populations, small businesses and low to middle income workforce household," the report states in its conclusion section.


The report recommends additional data analysis and market studies but also lays out several areas for using the COVID-19 federal relief funds already provided to the county.


"Community leaders and decision makers must most highly prioritize policy and resource allocation decisions that most directly relate to preventing, preparing for and responding to the immediate health impacts of the crisis," the report states. "Reopening schools, businesses and other institutions can only be done effectively and with the full confidence of the pubic and the consumer by addressing the immediate health impacts of the crisis."


In Jefferson City, Lincoln University announced it no longer will reopen its campus to the public next week but instead plans to do so a week later. The school said in a statement that it has been monitoring the rising number of COVID-19 cases and was postponing the reopening out of "an abundance of caution," the Jefferson City News-Tribune reports.


Last month, the university committed to having in-person classes in the fall and having campus residence halls open, though more specific details on how the campus will seek to safely reopen have not yet been released.


rkeller@columbiatribune.com


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