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147 coronavirus cases and 3 deaths linked to a single indoor wedding

Published Sep 7th, 2020 2:48PM EDT
Coronavirus wedding
Image: Kris Tan/Adobe
  • Nearly 150 positive coronavirus cases have now been traced back to an indoor wedding in Maine.
  • 65 people gathered for a wedding in early August, and in the weeks since the wedding, dozens of people have tested positive, with outbreaks at a jail and a nursing home.
  • Three people have died after coming in contact with wedding guests and their connections.

The novel coronavirus isn’t nearly as mysterious now as it was six months ago. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and keep your distance from others, and your chances of becoming infected drop precipitously. The riskiest activities, and the ones which frequently result in people getting sick, all seem to take place indoors, where they are exposed to one another for extended periods of time. And yet, tragic stories of “superspreader” incidents keep making the news week after week, with the latest taking place in Maine at a wedding that has been linked to three deaths.

A month ago, 65 people attended a wedding at Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, Maine. Within 10 days of the August 7th reception, Millinocket Regional Hospital reported that “a significant COVID-19 outbreak” was taking place in the town, as 28 positive cases had been linked back to the event. That number has been rising ever since, and on August 21st, the hospital reported the first casualty from the cases connected to the wedding.

Maine has reported fewer than 5,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, putting it in the bottom five of all US states. Despite its relatively minuscule infection rate, one indoor wedding was enough to set off a chain reaction, and on Saturday, the Maine CDC told CBS News that at least 147 cases have now been traced back to the gathering, with the outbreak having now spread to a jail and a nursing home.

One of the wedding attendees works at York County Jail in Maine, and as of last week, there have been 72 cases — 46 inmates, 19 staff members, and 7 family members. That’s nearly half of the facility’s population, and makes it one of the worst single-facility COVID-19 outbreaks that the state has seen to date.

The family member of yet another guest that tested positive works at Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Somerset County and 19 cases have been reported in the nursing home so far. There are now three COVID-19 deaths linked to the guests of the wedding and their contacts, including a 70-year-old man from Somerset County. Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah wouldn’t say if the man was a resident of Maplecrest “for reasons of patient privacy.”

“No outbreak is an island,” Dr. Shah explained. “Outbreaks are not isolated events. One outbreak can quickly lead to several more outbreaks, especially in a close geographic area.”

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.