In Maine, One Wedding Leads to a Jail Outbreak, 147 Coronavirus Cases, Three Deaths

A man wears a mask to help fight the spread of the coronavirus in Portland, Maine.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

In a grim reminder of how quickly the coronavirus can spread among the healthy and harm the vulnerable, CNN reported a single indoor wedding in Maine has lead to outbreaks in a nursing home and a prison, sickened 147, and caused the deaths of three people.

The August 7 wedding was held at Big Moose Inn, a hotel and campground in the town of Millinocket. The wedding reception had 65 people, in violation of the state’s limit of 50 people at indoor events. Big Moose Inn has since received a health hazard citation.

Individuals at the wedding contracted coronavirus from other guests there, and passed on the virus to others in their circles. Those individuals then passed them on further, including a nursing home employee who caused a coronavirus outbreak in the nursing home they worked in.  The Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center, which has seen sixteen cases among its elderly residents and employees, is more than a hundred miles away from Millinocket.

The other outbreak linked to the wedding is in York County Jail in Alfred. 72 people, including 46 inmates, 19 employees at the jail and seven family members of employees have since contracted coronavirus. York County Jail is 220 miles from Millinocket.

In a public coronavirus update, Maine’s CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah described the situation as a child’s arts project gone awry. “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,” he said. “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.”

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