Wedding With More Than 300 Guests Linked To At Least 17 COVID-19 Cases, 2 Outbreaks

Tuesday, November 17th 2020, 10:25 am
By: CBS News

A large wedding held in Washington state is linked to at least 17 COVID-19 cases and two subsequent outbreaks, officials in Grant County, Washington said. More than 300 people attended the event, which was held on November 7 in a "private location" near Ritzville, a small city with about 1,600 people, Grant County Health District (GCHD) said in a press release. 

GCHD is now asking those in attendance to get tested for COVID-19 and to self-quarantine through Saturday.

"Due to the multi-jurisdictional impact of this large event, GCHD felt it was necessary to notify the public," the press release reads. "GCHD is trying to notify attendees about possible exposure, but with more than 300 people attending the wedding from many communities, local health jurisdictions are unlikely to reach them all." 

The health department called it an evolving situation. District Administrator Theresa Adkinson said they are "thankful to those attendees who have gone in for testing and are staying home," which helps prevent transmission of the virus to even more people. 

"Wedding organizers are strongly encouraged to keep a log of attendees at each service and to retain that log for at least two weeks," GCHD said. "If an outbreak occurs, this information may be critical to help save lives."

The department also recommended that people who attend large events get a COVID-19 test five to seven days after, or sooner if symptoms develop. 

A statewide travel advisory in Washington also recommends a 14-day quarantine for those reentering the state after traveling, and that those who experience COVID-19 symptoms get tested. 

As of Monday, Grant County had 3,754 coronavirus cases and 28 deaths, according to GCHD. The state of Washington has had 131,532 cases and 2,548 deaths, according to the state's department of health. 

This week, Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions that will be in place through Monday, December 14 for all counties in Washington. 

Under the new restrictions, indoor social gatherings with people from different households aren't allowed unless guests quarantine for 14 days prior to the social gathering, or quarantine for seven days before and receive a negative COVID-19 test.

Outdoor social gatherings are now limited to five people from outside a household, restaurants and bars are closed for indoor dine-in service and gyms' indoor operations are now closed.

Among other statewide restrictions, wedding ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people and indoor receptions, wakes, or similar gatherings are not allowed. 

The new restrictions come after the state more than 2,000 cases per day a day over the weekend, according to the governor's office. Average daily cases in Washington have also doubled over the past two weeks.

It's part of a nationwide surge. Nearly every state saw an uptick in daily cases this week compared to last week, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center. 

Weddings in other states have also been categorized as "superspreaders." In October, a wedding and birthday party in Long Island, New York lead to at least 56 people testing positive for the virus. Officials said nearly 300 people in attendance were asked to quarantine.

In September, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said an August wedding reception in Millinocket, Maine was linked to more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus. Officials also said at least seven people died in connection to the outbreak.