The outbreak is "emblematic of how quickly, silently and efficiently" the coronavirus can spread, Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said

By Ally Mauch
September 05, 2020 05:15 PM
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Millinocket, Maine
| Credit: Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty

At least 147 new coronavirus cases and three deaths have been linked to an August wedding in Maine that violated the state’s guidelines, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Robert Long told CNN Saturday.

The updated numbers come just five days after the health agency announced that the wedding in Millinocket had spread the coronavirus to a nursing home and a jail in Maine. The wedding, held on Aug. 7, had 65 attendees, which is above the state’s limit of 50.

A secondary contact of a wedding guest, who is a nursing home staffer at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison became infected, leading to 15 more people at the nursing home to test positive for the virus. Maplecrest is more than 100 miles from the wedding’s location.

A staff member at York County Jail in Alfred who attended the wedding also contracted the coronavirus, spreading it to 19 additional staffers, seven of their family members and 46 inmates at the jail, which is more than 200 miles from Millinocket.

Wedding chairs
| Credit: PBS

The current number of infections linked to the wedding has more than doubled since Aug. 25, when the Maine CDC said the total had risen to 53, with 30 cases in people who attended the wedding, 13 secondary cases and 10 tertiary cases. The health agency had initially reported on Aug. 17 that the wedding had led to 24 infections.

"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," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said on Aug. 25.

"That's what Covid-19 is like,” he continued. “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."

On Aug. 21, a woman who was not at the wedding but was infected by someone who had attended died from the virus, health authorities said, according to the Portland Press Herald. Since then, two more people linked to the wedding have died from coronavirus.

The wedding ceremony was at a church in East Millinocket, with the post-wedding dinner held at the nearby Big Moose Inn. The CDC cited the Big Moose Inn for an “imminent health hazard” and is investigating further to see if guests were wearing masks, as well as whether Big Moose Inn required them as mandated by the state’s COVID-19 regulations.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE, the owner of the Big Moose Inn, Laurie Cormier, acknowledged the inn's error in exceeding the number of people allowed and said they have been "further enhancing our sanitization measures" since the outbreak. The establishment initially had its license removed, but it has since been reinstated.

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