AG sues operator of northern Minnesota rodeo; one person infectious at event has tested positive

Keith Ellison name plate
Photo credit Entercom
By 830 WCCO

Attorney General Keith Ellison is suing the operator of an Itasca County rodeo alleging it “knowingly dismissed...risks and disregarded restrictions” when crowds of thousands gathered last weekend in Effie, Minn.

According to Ellison’s office it’s the first action brought against an entertainment venue to enforce the governor’s executive order 20-74 which prohibits gatherings of more than 250 people or 25 percent capacity. The rodeo happened July 24-26.

Health officials have determined through contact tracing that one known person was infectious while at the rodeo and has since tested positive.

“From our case investigation it’s pretty clear that the current executive orders aren’t benign adhered to as well as we need them to be,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

State Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said organizers at one point had been working with state agencies leading up to the rodeo seeking guidance

“We had provided information about the limits of size and then the organizers made a decision,” she said. “They reached a point of frustration, I think, with what the executive order meant. And they reached a point at which they decided that they would hold the event.”

“We’re concerned about the individual case and the individual event,” Ehresmann said, “but we’re also concerned about how that event as a stone in a lake kind of has a ripple effect going out.”

Itasca County currently sits at a cumulative case rate of 27 per 100,000 residents. Neighbors St. Louis and Aitkin Counties stand at 15, while Beltrami is 27. Itasca has reported 125 total cases and 12 deaths.