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Cuomo: NYS Fair to open at 100% capacity this summer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, speaks at the State Fairgrounds Monday. At left is Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse). At right is Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Syracuse)

The New York State Fair will be back at full capacity this summer. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the move as the state’s COVID-19 infection rate dropped to .41% Sunday.

Speaking at the New York State Fairgrounds near Syracuse Monday, Cuomo said he’s looking forward to a great summer.

“This summer has to make up all we’ve had to go through the past year,” said Cuomo.

Last year, the pandemic forced officials to cancel the fair. In May, Cuomo announced the fair would be open at 50% capacity, but with record low infection rates and an almost 70% vaccination rate across the state, Cuomo said it’s time to open the gates all the way to 100% capacity. 

The only limitation will be for people who haven’t received the COVID vaccine.

“If you’re not vaccinated, there will be signs that say wear a mask if you are not vaccinated,” Cuomo said. “And I believe people respect that. And I believe the overwhelming number of people will be vaccinated."

State Fair Director Troy Waffner said this year’s fair will look the same as usual. It will start August 20 and run through Labor Day, and he doesn’t rule out breaking the 2019 fair attendance record of more than 1.3. million people.

“Absolutely. I think any time you can draw more people here, we are going to 18 days, we don’t rest on our laurels, we’ve been taught not to rest on our laurels around here, so we’re going to go after them when we can get them,” said Waffner.

Meanwhile, the state is .1% away from Cuomo’s goal of 70% of New Yorkers 18 and older getting at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Cuomo said Sunday’s vaccination numbers show 69.9% of all New York residents 18 and older have received at least one dose. But he said the numbers of people vaccinated vary greatly by zip code, with rates in some low-income urban and rural areas as low as 38.8%. Cuomo said local governments need to focus on those areas and give it “one more push."

“Go door to door,” Cuomo said. “Go to churches, go to social events, go to community events.”

Cuomo said when the state’s vaccination rate reaches 70% of people 18 and over getting at least one dose, he plans to hold a celebration. Currently, the number of adults fully vaccinated and who have received all of their required doses two or more weeks ago is lower, at 60.1%.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.