International News

How Maine’s super spreader COVID-19 wedding erupted

0
how-maine’s-super-spreader-covid-19-wedding-erupted

A superspreader wedding in Maine that killed seven people and sickened 177 has become a CDC case study in why it’s important to avoid large gatherings amid the ongoing pandemic. 

The California couple’s wedding in the rural Maine town of Millinocket back in August led to a COVID-19 outbreak among guests that then spread to a long-term care facility in a different county and a correctional facility about 200 miles away.  

Prior to the wedding, the town of Millinocket – with a population of approximately 4,500 people – had no reported COVID-19 cases. 

Fifty-five people attended the wedding and reception held at the Big Moose Inn on August 7.  At the time, Maine had capped indoor gatherings at 50 people.

Health officials say at least 177 coronavirus cases have been linked to the wedding, including seven people who were hospitalized.

A total of seven deaths have been tied to the outbreak. Four of the seven who were hospitalized died. 

None of the people who died attended the wedding.  

Maine health authorities launched a widespread investigation into the wedding and subsequent outbreaks. The findings of the probe were published in a CDC report on Friday.

The California couple’s wedding in the rural Maine town of Millinocket back in August led to a COVID-19 outbreak among guests that then spread to a long-term care facility in a different county and a correctional facility about 200 miles away

TIMELINE OF MAINE WEDDING OUTBREAK 

August 6: Bride, groom and groom’s five family members fly from California to Maine. 

August 7: Wedding is held at Big Moose Inn.

August 8: Guest, known as index patients, starts suffering symptoms.

August 10: Index patients attends in-person meeting at a local school despite suffering symptoms. 

August 11: The parent of a wedding guest starts having symptoms. The parent still goes to work at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center.   

August 13: Index patient tests positive for COVID-19.

August 14: Wedding guest goes to work at York County Jail despite having symptoms.  

August 18: Health care worker tests positive for COVID-19. 

August 19: Jail employee tests positive. 

August 20 – September: 177 people test positive, four people are hospitalized and seven people die.  

The wedding outbreak: 

Investigators noted that the bride and groom, as well as five of the groom’s family members, traveled from California to Maine for the wedding in Millinocket on August 6.

The family underwent COVID-19 tests on arrival in Maine as required by the Governor. They did not have to quarantine for 14 days after all seven of them tested negative.

The wedding was held at the Tri Town Baptist Church and reception at Big Moose Inn on August 7. 

Fifty five guests attended the nuptials, which exceeded Maine’s 50-person limit for indoor gatherings. 

Staff members at the venue took the temperature of all the guests as they arrived. 

The CDC said in its report that guests were not wearing masks during the indoor event and did not maintain a distance of six feet from each other. 

The day after the wedding, a guest – who became known as the ‘index patient’ – started having a fever, runny nose, cough and fatigue.

It is not clear who patient zero was.  

That patient, despite suffering symptoms, attended an in-person meeting at a local school on August 10. 

The index patient went on to have a COVID-19 test, which came back positive on August 13.  

By August 20, a total of 30 positive cases had been linked directly to the wedding. 

Twenty-seven of the 55 guests got COVID-19. A staff member at the venue, a vendor and a patron dining at the venue, who was not a wedding guest,  also tested positive. 

Maine CDC investigators immediately started to contact trace after learning of the wedding reception. 

An additional 27 people in the community, who did not attend the wedding but had contact with guests, tested positive. 

Four of those people were hospitalized and one died.  

Two school staff members who came in contact with the index patient at the in-person meeting tested positive on August 14 and 17.

Local schools had to delay reopening by two weeks while exposed staff quarantined. 

Maine health authorities launched a widespread investigation into the wedding and subsequent outbreaks. The findings of the probe were published in a CDC report on Friday

The wedding was held at Big Moose Inn on August 7. Fifty five guests attended the nuptials, which exceeded Maine’s 50-person limit for indoor gatherings

The long-term care facility outbreak:

Following the wedding, one of the guests visited their parent, who is a healthcare worker at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison.

The care facility is 100 miles away from where the wedding was held.

The healthcare worker started having a fever, chills, cough, runny nose and headache on August 11. That person still went to work on August 11 and 12 before having a COVID-19 test on August 13. The healthcare worker tested positive on August 18. 

All residents and staff members at the facility underwent testing on August 19 with four residents and one staffer testing positive. 

Between August 19 and September 11, 38 others got COVID-19. Fourteen of the 76 staffers tested positive and 24 of the 44 residents contracted the virus. 

Three of the residents ended up being hospitalized and a total of six died.

Those who died were all over the age of 60 and had underlying medical conditions.  

The correctional facility outbreak:

One of the guests at the wedding works at the York County Jail, which is 200 miles away. 

The correctional employee still went to work at the jail despite reporting symptoms, including a cough, runny nose, sore throat and loss of taste, on August 14.

The employee worked daily eight-hour shifts in two separate correctional facility housing units from August 15 to 19. 

That person, as well as three other staffers at the jail, received positive test results on August 19. 

Eighteen staffers, 48 prisoners and 16 family members of employees ended up testing positive by September.  

Investigators later found that the jail had not been screening employees for symptoms or enforcing mask use after the first case was identified.  

Most of those who tested positive were males aged between 30-59.

No one was hospitalized and there were no deaths among those cases.  

None of the seven people who ended up dying actually attended the wedding and reception. 

Investigators say they likely undercounted cases of illness that were linked to the super spreader wedding. 

Health officials say at least 177 coronavirus cases have been linked to the wedding, including seven people who were hospitalized. A total of seven deaths have been tied to the outbreak

The wedding made headlines back in August as health officials scrambled to contact the outbreak. 

The bride and groom have not been publicly identified.

The reception venue admitted at the time that they misunderstood local capacity rules for COVID-19 restrictions and overbooked the event. 

Pastor Todd Bell, who runs his own church 225 miles away in Sanford, officiated the wedding. 

Bell continued to hold services in Sanford in the aftermath of the wedding and bristled over attacks aimed at him on social media. 

In one sermon, he urged people to put their trust in God over government and questioned the wisdom of masks, likening their effectiveness to a chain-link fence trying to keep out mosquitoes. 

On a video, which is no longer public on YouTube, he said he’s been “reviled” because of the wedding.

About 10 of his congregants have tested positive for the virus.  

Pastor Todd Bell, who runs his own church 225 miles away in Sanford, officiated the wedding. Bell continued to hold services in Sanford in the aftermath of the wedding and bristled over attacks aimed at him on social media

Theresa Dentremont, an 83-year-old woman who did not attend the wedding, was among the seven people who died in hospital. Her 97-year-old husband Frank Dentremont, who is a WWII veteran and the oldest resident of resident of East Millinocket, was also hospitalized but he later recovered

Theresa Dentremont, an 83-year-old woman who did not attend the wedding, was among the seven people who died in hospital.

Her 97-year-old husband Frank Dentremont, who is a WWII veteran and the oldest resident of resident of East Millinocket, was also hospitalized but he later recovered. 

His son, Frank Dentremont Jr, told the Washington Post at the time that he recalled hearing about the wedding but believed his father and stepmother would have been safe.

The couple had been self-isolating at their home for much of the pandemic given they fell into the high-risk COVID-19 category.

‘I had heard the stories about the wedding thing,’ he said.

‘I thought, ‘My dad and stepmom weren’t there. They’ve been quarantining themselves; they’ll be fine’. Who could have known?’

Dentremont Jr has said he doesn’t want to speculate on who could have given his stepmother and father the virus.

He has also said he isn’t angry at those who went ahead with the wedding.

‘Nobody did this consciously,’ Dentremont Jr said. ‘If they knew they were the ones at fault, I’m sure they’d feel terrible.’

FBI recaptures convicted killer Leonard Moses who spent 49 YEARS on the run

Previous article

Ivanka returns to NYC for the first time since her father lost the election

Next article

You may also like

Comments

Leave a Reply