A woman has died of COVID-19 after being infected by a guest who attended a wedding in Maine that caused a cluster of 53 infections.
The unidentified person did not attend the August 7 reception in Millinocket but died Friday after coming into contact with someone who did.
About 65 people attended the indoor event at the Big Moose Inn, according to Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) spokesman Robert Long. The state’s limit on social gatherings is 50 people.
Those infected range in age from four to 78-years-old. Around 13 per cent of this infected are asymptomatic. Almost half of the cases thought to have come from the wedding are people who did not attend.
The initial number of cases reported stood at 24 but officials at the Millinocket Regional Hospital said the case number was expected to rise as testing continues and pending test results are reported.
It was the first outbreak tied to a specific social event in Maine, where most previous outbreaks have been tied to workplaces or congregant care settings, Long said Monday.
The Big Moose Inn was issued with an imminent health hazard citation, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Thursday. The Tri-Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket is understood to have held the wedding ceremony.
The Maine CDC said in a statement: ‘Social gatherings such as weddings and receptions pose an elevated risk for virus transmission.’
‘The possibility of COVID-19 transmission increases as the number of attendees increases, even when some attendees are indoors and others are outdoors.
‘This is because outdoor attendees may reasonably be expected to come indoors and interact with others, increasing the possibility of COVID-19 transmission.
‘Indoor gatherings pose extra risk compared to outdoor gatherings, given the challenges of ensuring adequate physical distancing and ventilation.’
The governor’s executive orders put in place during the global pandemic limit indoor gatherings to 50 people if there’s adequate space, while 100 people are allowed at outdoor events.
Attendees should also follow physical distancing guidelines and wear masks while not eating.
The orders also allow for a fine of up to $10,000, the governor’s spokeswoman said.
In Maine, more than 4,000 people have contracted the virus. The number of deaths stands at 131, the Maine CDC said.
There are more than 5.7 million coronavirus cases in the US with 176,801 deaths.
The Maine CDC was communicating with Big Moose Inn about the nature of the event and adherence to state requirements.
Millinocket Town Manager John Davis said last Monday that he didn’t have all the details about the outbreak, but said there was enough concern to close town hall and local schools as a precaution.
‘We didn’t want to take any chances,’ he said.