- A wedding reception in Maine has been linked to 53 confirmed coronavirus cases and counting.
- Nearly half of those cases consist of people who didn’t go to the wedding, Maine’s CDC reported.
- It’s not clear whether people wore masks at the event, but the venue is said to have exceeded the state’s indoor limit of 50 people.
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A wedding reception in Millinocket, Maine, has been linked to 53 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the Maine Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
That number includes a woman who did not attend the event but died Friday; officials believe she was later infected with COVID-19 from a guest, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Sixty-five people went to the August 7 reception, which was largely indoors, Maine’s CDC director, Nirav Shah, said in a press conference on Thursday. Shah said the venue, Big Moose Inn, exceeded the state’s limit on indoor gatherings, which is 50 people.
The median age of known infected people among the outbreak is 42, but there’s a wide range from 4 years old to 98, the Press Herald’s report said. Most of the people reported symptoms about four days after the reception, but roughly 13% were asymptomatic, Shah said Thursday.
It’s not the first time a celebration has been associated with a somber if not lethal outcome.
In May, a birthday party in Pasadena, California, made national headlines when it was linked to the infection of at least five people, several of whom became seriously ill. The outbreak is thought to have started with a person who attended the party without a face mask while coughing, officials said.
“She was joking with people at the birthday party,” Lisa Derderian, a spokeswoman for Pasadena, told CNN at the time. “She said I may have COVID-19, and lo and behold, she did.”
In Millinocket, it’s unclear whether guests wore masks. Nearly half – 23 – of the cases linked to the wedding are among people who didn’t attend, according to the Press Herald. Efforts to identify those who’ve come into contact with infected people are still underway, Maine’s CDC said.
In general, contact tracing in the US isn’t going well, The New York Times reported last month. In many scenarios, the virus is running rampant ahead of investigators’ efforts. In others, delays in getting back test results in turn delay infected people from staying home.
In fact, the method is more appropriate for states like Maine, which has a low overall infection rate. With 53 cases and counting linked to it, the Millinocket wedding is the state’s second-biggest outbreak to date, the Press Herald reported.
Elsewhere, those resources are better spent on things like testing sites, helping schools prepare for reopening, and educating the public about masks and other preventive measures, public-health officials told The Times.
“Contact tracing is the wrong tool for the wrong job at the wrong time,” Dr. David Lakey, the former state health commissioner of Texas, said in The Times’ report.