Holiday Party Becomes COVID Superspreader Event After Woman With 'Little Cough' Hosts

A Pennsylvania woman caused a COVID superspreading event by hosting a holiday party while sick.

Darlene Reynolds of Milmon Park told ABC7 she came down with a scratchy throat and a "tiny little cough" on December 26, but decided to continue with holiday celebrations as she did not have a fever.

Reynolds' case highlights how the coronavirus can affect people differently, with some showing no symptoms at all, others having a persistent cough, fever, and shortness of breath, and some cases requiring hospital treatment.

As the virus can spread even if an infected person is not showing symptoms, health officials advised people to stay home during the holidays.

On December 27, Reynolds went ahead with the party, with some guests arriving from Canada. Before long, people were feeling ill.

Reynolds said: "So we were sick, but we didn't know we had COVID. We could've had the flu, but it was scary." She tested positive for COVID, followed by her husband, her son, and daughter.

Eventually, at least 18 people aged between 0 to 62 years old caught the coronavirus. The chance of falling severely ill with COVID rises the older a person is, with those aged 85 or above facing the greatest risk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eight of 10 COVID deaths in the U.S. have occurred in adults aged 65 and over. Children, on the other hand, are more likely to have a mild form of COVID, but in rare cases have been known to get seriously ill or die.

Reynold's son and her husband were both hospitalized by the virus. The family were already struggling financially after Stephen's truck broke down.

His daughter Joy Purdie told ABC7 Stephen is "headed in the right direction" but will require oxygen when is discharged from hospital.

Lisa Riggin, who owns a local painting and decorating company, helped the family raise money online.

In a fundraising Facebook post, Riggin said: "Steve Reynolds is the kind of guy that makes you feel extra special just by giving you his sole attention.

She said: "Steve was suddenly stricken with the terrible disease COVID-19 and has been in the hospital now for over a week. Everyday he is battling to get out of that hospital but his body is weak. He's making slow progression."

Riggin told ABC 7: "The truck's been down for a month and they haven't had income and I just don't want to see them lose their home or their business."

So far, she has raised $4,000 for the family.

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A stock image shows a family having dinner. A holiday partner in Pennsylvania turned into a super spreading event after the host developed COVID. Getty