Two More Deaths Linked to COVID Super Spreader Maine Wedding, State CDC Director Says

Two additional deaths have now been linked to a COVID-19 super spreader Maine wedding that took place in the Millinocket area, according to the state's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director.

While speaking at a virtual COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah stated that state authorities have been able to identify the virus spreading from the wedding reception to other areas in the state, such as the York County Jail and the Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison.

"More generally, related to the Millinocket wedding events, I mentioned there have been 176 cases, and including now, the six individuals who have passed away at Maplecrest," Shah said. "A total of seven individuals, who have passed away with COVID-19, resulting from and related to the August 7 wedding in Millinocket."

According to Shah, CDC officials in Maine were able to discover an additional 11 cases at Maplecrest, leading to a total number of 39 cases at the facility. "These most recent cases are in and among residents of the Maplecrest facility," Shah said, but added that they are the result of "periodic re-testing, that is occurring at the facility on a weekly basis."

Maine CDC officials previously stated that an employee of the York County Jail and a staff member from the Maplecrest facility both attended the August 7 wedding. Shah noted that none of the six individuals who died at the Maplecrest facility attended the wedding.

The number of deaths linked to the wedding reported on Tuesday is an increase from the previous day, as Maine's CDC reported five deaths on Monday.

State health officials opened an investigation into the wedding on August 17, when they noted that 65 guests attended the event, which violated Governor Janet Mills' executive order limiting indoor gatherings to 50 people.

Coronavirus Wedding
Wedding rings are pictured during the ceremony at the Briosco's town hall, about 28 miles north of Milan, on May 11, 2020 during Italy's lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Two more deaths have been linked to a COVID super-spreader wedding in Maine. Miguel Medina/Getty

The Maine CDC is also investigating to determine if an outbreak at the Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford is linked to the wedding, as church pastor Todd Bell officiated the event.

According to the Associated Press, the church issued a statement on Tuesday saying that a number of its members attended the wedding. It also noted that the church is taking precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus while continuing to hold religious services.

"The Calvary Baptist Church has a legal right to meet. The authority of a local Christian church, a Jewish synagogue, or a Muslim mosque to gather for their respective religious services is a time-honored part of our nation's history since its inception," the statement said, according to the AP. "These religious activities are also fully protected under the First Amendment to our United States Constitution."

Across Maine, there are currently over 4,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and at least 137 deaths, according to the Maine CDC.

Newsweek reached out to the Maine CDC for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.