A small wedding has led to devastating multiple COVID-19 outbreaks and the deaths of at least seven people in the US.
A detailed report from the CDC said the wedding reception, attended by just 55 people, was the likely source of a series of outbreaks in a rural town in Maine. The outbreak spread to a long-term care facility, a correctional facility and parts of the local community, and was linked to a total 177 cases of coronavirus, and seven deaths.
The CDC wrote the outbreak “(highlights) the importance of adhering to recommended mitigation measures even in communities where transmission rates are low.
“None of the persons who were hospitalised or died had attended the event.”
The wedding was held in rural town in Maine on August 7, and was attended by a relatively small group of just 55. The town, not named in the CDC’s report, had a population of 4500 and had previously reported zero cases of COVID-19.
Five days after the wedding, on August 12, two guests tested positive for coronavirus after developing symptoms the previous day. The following day, another three guests also tested positive, prompting the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MeCDC) to launch an investigation into a possible outbreak.
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The bride and groom had travelled to the area from California with the groom’s family on August 6, and after testing negative on their arrival they weren’t required to quarantine.
The CDC identified the “index patient” as a local Maine resident who developed symptoms on August 8, the day after the wedding, but who didn’t receive a positive test until August 13.
Between August 8 and August 14, some 24 wedding guests were diagnosed with COVID-19.
The result prompted a health inspection of the facility which held the reception.
Officials found they’d breached the state’s 50-person limit for indoor gatherings in a shared space, as the wedding was attended by 55 guests.
Signage was in place urging guests to wear masks — but staff didn’t enforce this. The report claims staff were wearing masks. The report also said the wedding guests weren’t maintaining a physical distance.
The venue didn’t collect information from the guests to assist contact tracers — but a member of the wedding party provided contact tracing information to the CDC.
In the town, some 27 residents tested positive for coronavirus, in cases linked to the outbreak at the reception.
At another long-term health facility, one of the wedding guest’s parents went to work and became the index patient in an outbreak — leading to 36 infections and six deaths.
Another outbreak at a corrections facility was also linked to the celebration, which infected 82 members of staff and inmates, after a guest went back to work.
“Community gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties, church events, and funerals have the potential to be SARS-CoV-2 super-spreading events,” the CDC wrote in its findings.
“Robust case investigation and contact tracing allowed seemingly disparate outbreaks to be epidemiologically linked to the event.
“Index patients at the LTCF and the correctional facility both worked while symptomatic, underscoring the importance of staying home when ill.”