Coronavirus Outbreak Linked to Maine Wedding, As Birx Says Parties Mostly to Blame for Spread

A wedding reception in Maine has been linked to an outbreak of COVID-19 involving dozens of people, prompting an investigation by health officials.

The probe was announced as White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx said parties are fueling the pandemic.

The event, attended by 65 people, took place on August 7 at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, a town in Penobscot County, in the eastern central area of the state, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday.

A total of 24 people linked to the event tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 18 attended the reception, and six were their close contacts. Every individual was a Maine resident.

Maine CDC said it is using contact tracing to notify guests, staff, and others who may have come into contact with those who tested positive at the event and after.

The health body asked those who went to an event at Big Moose Inn on August 7 and have COVID-19 symptoms to call their health care provider before getting medical help. The symptoms of COVID-19 can include, but are not restricted to, a cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, and body aches.

Maine CDC has asked Big Moose Inn about the event and whether state requirements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were followed.

An executive order by the state's governor prohibits groups of 50 or more sharing space indoors, and 100 outdoors if they cannot stay 5 people per 1,000 feet apart.

People attending social gatherings are advised to wear a face covering, stay 6 feet away from others, and 6 feet away from different households as much as possible.

Robert Peterson, CEO of Millinocket Regional Hospital, told those who tested positive were being treated as out-patients, and therefore have not been hospitalized.

Some 4,197 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Maine and 127 people have died since the start of the pandemic, according to The New York Times coronavirus database.

Maine has seen its number of new COVID-19 cases per day rise by 7 percent in the past two weeks, up to an average of 21 per day.

In the U.S. as a whole, over 5.4 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, and almost 171,000 people have died, making up around a quarter of the respective global totals.

On Monday, Birx told reporters outside the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas: "We're finding that the majority of community spread right now is happening from parties, either indoors or outdoors, where people are with their families or friends and believe there's no one there that has COVID. And yet there is someone there that has the virus and they don't know they have the virus because a significant number are asymptomatic."

She also said people should considering wearing masks at home to protect their family members in certain situations.

"If you're in private and you think you've been exposed or you think you've done something that may have created an exposure, like gone to a bar or been with 10 people, then I really want you to wear your mask indoors when you're with your grandmother or your grandfather or your aunt that may have cancer, I think it's really important that we do that to protect one another," she said.

wedding, love, marriage, stock
A stock image shows a couple at their wedding. A COVID-19 outbreak has been linked to a Maine wedding.