The MCD Council Members and Executive Director have written a letter to local government and State Fair leadership addressing the safety concerns regarding COVID-19 and its Delta variant for Minnesotans with disabilities. Unfortunately, despite attending this event for many years, MCD will not be at the State Fair this year.
We ask you all to read the open letter, take note of our call to action, and share this message widely to ensure Minnesotans with disabilities’ lives and health are prioritized.
For more information, questions, or media inquiries, please contact the Executive Director, David Dively, at David.Dively@state.mn.us or 651-341-1845.
This open letter is also available as a video message.
Text of letter follows:
August 08, 2021
Minnesota Council on Disability
1600 University Avenue W.
Saint Paul, MN 55104
The Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) has made the difficult decision not to attend the 2021 State Fair.
Throughout the summer, we looked to government leadership and State Fair leadership to create a safe and welcoming environment for Minnesotans with disabilities and aging Minnesotans. Unfortunately, our leaders have not stepped up to require masks, vaccines, or crowd limits at the State Fair. Our state has not reached a level of vaccinations that creates herd immunity. We are currently experiencing another COVID-19 wave due to the Delta variant (including outbreaks at many other fairs around the state). Minnesota is dangerously close to crossing the 5.0% positivity rate, which the CDC would label as “substantial spread.”
In their desire to return to normal, Minnesotans have resisted masking. Some have resisted vaccinations, despite the disproportionate effect that COVID-19 has on Minnesotans with disabilities and aging Minnesotans. By not creating a safe place for all Minnesotans to gather, MCD’s presence at the State Fair this year would reinforce the message to society that the lives of people with disabilities are less important. But, others have attempted to frame this issue as freedom from vaccines or masks rather than as a right for Minnesotans with disabilities to be healthy and alive.
MCD cannot endorse the decision to make masking optional at the State Fair. We cannot support the refusal to make hard decisions that will upset some but likely save many. People with disabilities are rarely at the front of social conversations about right and wrong, equality and rights. This lack of action continues the trend of de-prioritizing marginalized communities. These policies, or lack of policies, appear to be overlooking Minnesotans with disabilities and other marginalized communities, making people’s health a secondary priority. This lack of leadership and policies does not represent our state’s diverse racial, ethnic, aging, or disability communities — all of which have higher risks from COVID-19.
We believe that this letter can serve as a wake-up call to our leaders across government and the leadership of the State Fair that it is never too late to do the right thing and that society can and must do better. We need to implement stronger vaccine, masking, and crowd requirements at the State Fair.
The implicit message that Minnesotans with disabilities are asked not to attend is an unacceptable alternative.
Nikki Villavicencio, Chair, Ramsey County
Trent Dilks, Vice Chair, Stearns County
Saido Abdirashid, Council Member, Hennepin County
Dawn Bly, Council Member, Polk County
Andrew Christensen, Council Member, Rice County
Christy Caez Claudio, Council Member, Hennepin County
John Fechter, Council Member, Chisago County
Jennifer Foley, Council Member, Stearns County
David Johnson, Council Member, Beltrami County
Hope Johnson, Council Member, Waseca County
Leigh Lake, Council Member, Otter Tail County
Judith Moe, Council Member, Hennepin County
Quinn Nystrom, Council Member, Crow Wing County
Myrna Peterson, Council Member, Itasca County
Ted Stamp, Council Member, Lyon County
E. David Dively, Executive Director
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please email E. David Dively at David.Dively@state.mn.us or call at 651-341-1845.