In what is the second closure in 86 years, the San Mateo County Event Center staff announced Thursday the county fair will be canceled this year as the fairgrounds are being used in emergency preparation of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fair was scheduled to take place from June 13-21 but the grounds in San Mateo has been activated to serve as a potential treatment center with 250 hospital beds. With this activation, the county has directed the grounds must be used for the next 90 days minimum.

The emergency activation allows health officials to place patients there as overflow from local hospital or for people who can’t go home for fear of exposing an elderly relative to the virus. The center was constructed with assistance from the California Air National Guard. Equipment could also be used elsewhere if needed.

The San Mateo County Fair has opened every year since 1934, except for one year during World War II. This year, June 2020, is the second historic closure in 86 years.

“Our core mission is always to serve our community first. As a designated Office of Emergency Services resource, we are fulfilling that mission. Our commitment to you is to continue to lead with our hearts and minds. We will get through this and emerge stronger and better together,” CEO Dana Stoehr said in a press release. “Our Event Center and Fairgrounds will open for the gathering public in the future, and we look forward to welcoming you back as soon as the crisis is behind us.” 

There are 453 confirmed coronavirus cases in the county as of Thursday, up from 388 cases the day prior. There are still 10 deaths linked to the disease. People who no longer have coronavirus are not subtracted from the total. All the deaths are those over 60, with six being over 80.

The county also issued guidance Thursday on wearing masks when leaving home for essential travel such as doctor appointments, grocery shopping or pharmacy visits. Health officials now recommend residents cover their nose and mouth with cloth. Face coverings do not have to be hospital grade and can be bandanas, fabric masks or neck gaiters and can be washed and used again. Health officials do not recommend using medical masks because they are in limited supply.

“In addition to shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements, wearing a mask in public is an important tool to stop the community spread of this disease,” Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County health officer, said in a press release. “People with no or mild symptoms may have coronavirus and not know it. Wearing face coverings helps protect others from exposure.”

Covering the nose and mouth with cloth also may be beneficial as a reminder to keep physical distancing. Health officials continue to stress that staying home, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing are the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Go to or call 211 for more resources and information.

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