Two people are dead and at least 50 Floridians are infected with COVID-19 after a social club hosted a series of ‘superspreader’ events in August.
The Social Club of Palm Coast on September 12 revealed that staff had contacted dozens of people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak linked to their establishment.
The outbreak killed a 69-year-old woman on August 31 and a 74-year-old man on September 13, both of whom died of COVID-19-related infections linked to events.
Flagler County health department chief Bob Snyder told FlagerLive that a few people were also hospitalized and at lease one person was in hospice.
FlaglerLive reports that one of the events took place at The Social Club of Palm Coast on August 28 and included a performance by a local entertainer.
The Social Club of Palm Coast (pictured) hosted a series of events in August that resulted in a number of infections and two deaths
Although FlagerLive initially linked all the infections and deaths solely to the August 28 event, health officials have since said that it spanned several functions.
During that week, the club hosted line dancing on Monday, a performance with Mike Kohn on Tuesday, trivia on Wednesday and other similar events.
But at the event on August 28, members showed up watch and sing along with Mike Kohn, a popular local DJ and performer.
Attendees reportedly wore masks when the entered the venue, but some began to gradually remove the coverings as they socialized.
‘Almost everybody that entered wore a mask,’ Gloria April, the newly elected secretary of the social club, told FlagerLive.
She added that club staffers tried to create space between attendees, but they wouldn’t budge.
‘We opened up the big room and tried to have people go into the big room and they didn’t want to go,’ said April.
‘One table had 12 people at it and [a club employee] tried to get the people to not sit, to disperse at that table, to bring it down to 6,’ said April.
‘I know the governor says 10, or CDC says 10, but people want to sit together. You know, you can’t shoot people.’
Pictured: an event flyer for the August 28 event that featured Mike Kohn, a popular local entertainer, and contributed to an outbreak
Pictured: a look inside a venue inside a room in The Social Club of Palm Coast where members can meet and events are held
Florida has limited indoor gatherings to 50 people and recommended wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19. The state experienced a skyrocket in cases during the summer, but has so far recorded 693,040 cases and 13,795 deaths.
‘This is actually a pretty dramatic event, it’s almost publishable, it’s that dramatic–50 people from one event, including deaths. It’s really a tragedy,’ Dr. Stephen Bickel told Flager Live.
‘It’s certainly profound ignorance of the risk. The public may not be aware of what a risk this is. I thought they did, but maybe not.
‘I know that churches are not having singing in their services because of this kind of stuff. I don’t know if people realize it, but karaoke is as bad or worse, because they do it for a long period of time, you’re in a closed space.’
The CDC noted in a September 2020 study shared to the Emerging Infectious Disease Journal that activities like karaoke easily spread the virus.
‘We noted many COVID-19 clusters were associated with heavy breathing in close proximity, such as singing at karaoke parties, cheering at clubs, having conversations in bars, and exercising in gymnasiums,’ the study said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that it noted ‘noted many COVID-19 clusters were associated with heavy breathing in close proximity’
This latest outbreak to come out of Florida underscores the importance of following public health guidelines as national cases edge towards 7million cases and deaths are now at 201,000.
‘This karaoke thing is a classic example, little old Flagler County has its own superspreading event,’ Bickel told the publication. ‘Most places will never have an event this dramatic.’
It’s unclear how many of the club’s 294 paying members were at the karaoke event.
FlaglerLive reports that the outbreak contributed to spike in Flagler County that came from social clubs, schools and nursing homes.
Both Grand Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center and Tuscan Gardens assisted living reportedly saw large upticks in cases. The local school district reported 47 cases connected to teachers and students.
The spike has caused around 400 cases since September 1 and the positivity rate has reached 10 per cent. Last week saw Flagler County’s infection rate place it at No.39 in the state.
In a Facebook post, The Social Club Palm Coast said that its facilities would undergo sanitizing weekly and after large events.
‘Serve Pro has sanitized the building and will be sanitizing the building post all major events weekly. Serve Pro has been sanctioned by the CDC for covid-19 outbreaks and they have been fabulous to work with our club.
Gloria April: ‘Our number 1 priority is making sure we’re safe for everybody and this outbreak has made us more aware and proactive in making sure it’s a safe environment’
‘As we have found out temperature checks are not always a proven stop-gap for covid as no one who entered the club had a fever those 2 nights.’
The post reiterated CDC recommendations and asked members to follow the advice in the future.
‘There will be some more changes when we reopen the week of 9/21/20. The tables will be reduced in the bar area and the 6 feet will be enforced.
‘No gatherings at tables of more than 8 as recommended by CDC guidelines. Masks will be worn at all times except when eating or drinking.’
April told FlagerLive that after the event and subsequent sanitizing, the social club will be better than ever.
‘Our number 1 priority is making sure we’re safe for everybody and this outbreak has made us more aware and proactive in making sure it’s a safe environment. I think we’re going to be a safer club than any other club,’ she said.