147 coronavirus cases, 3 deaths linked to Maine wedding with 65 guests

About 150 cases of COVID-19 can be linked back to an indoor wedding ceremony and reception that took place Aug. 7 in Millinocket, Maine.

Approximately 65 people attended the Aug. 7 wedding.

During a news conference Thursday, Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC, said 56 coronavirus cases have been reported among wedding guests and their secondary or tertiary contacts.

That’s up from the 24 cases that were reported in an Aug. 11 news release.

One of the wedding guests works at York County Jail in Alfred, Maine. That wedding guest tested positive for COVID-19 and spread the virus to 18 other staff members at the jail, seven family members of staff and 46 inmates.

A secondary contact of another wedding guest tested positive for the virus. That secondary contact works at Maplecrest Rehabilitation & Living Center, a nursing home in Madison, Maine. After reporting to work, the infected person transmitted the virus to 15 other people, including eight residents and seven other staff members.

Three people have died, including a man in his 70s. Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said none of the people who died attended the wedding.

“Outbreaks are not isolated events. One outbreak can quickly lead to several more outbreaks, especially in a close geographic area,” Shah said.

According to CNN, the nursing home is more than 100 miles away from Big Moose Inn, where the wedding was held. The jail is more than 200 miles away from the wedding venue.

“What we are dealing with is a giant tube of glitter. You open a tube of glitter in your basement then two weeks later you are in the attic and all you find is glitter and have no idea how it got there,” Shah said during an Aug. 25 briefing. “That’s what COVID-19 is like. You open up glitter in Millinocket, and next thing you know you are finding traces of it at a jail complex in York County. It’s just emblematic of how quickly, silently and efficiently it can spread.”

For violating the state’s 50-person indoor gathering limit, Big Moose Inn was cited for health hazards and had its lodging and dining license temporarily suspended.

In a statement shared on social media, the venue said it misinterpreted the state guidelines:

“We understood that there could be no more than 50 persons in our largest room. We did make an error in the interpretation of that rule. Our interpretation was that we could take a wedding party of more than 50 persons and split them between two rooms as long as it didn’t exceed our total capacity or a specific room’s capacity.”

At least 4,200 coronavirus cases have been reported in Maine since the onset of the pandemic. The state has reported 134 deaths.