Millinocket, Maine — At least 147 Covid-19 cases are now linked to an August wedding reception in Maine, a state CDC spokesman said Saturday.
Three people connected to the outbreak have died of the virus, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Robert Long told CNN.
The wedding was held in Millinocket on August 7. Since then, the cases have spread to a nursing home and a prison, both more than 100 miles away from the venue.
The wedding outbreak investigation as of Thursday was still at 56 cases among the guests and their secondary and tertiary contacts. Secondary contacts are people who had close contact with someone who attended and tertiary contacts are people who had close contact with a secondary.
The state had 4,667 cases of coronavirus and 134 deaths through Friday, according to the Maine Covid-19 website.
Covid cases at a jail and nursing home
Outbreaks linked to the wedding have unfolded at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison and York County Jail in Alfred, the state agency announced last week.
Seventy-two people connected to the York County Jail have tested positive for the virus, Long said Thursday. Of those, 46 are inmates, 19 work at the jail and seven are household members of those jail employees.
The jail is more than 220 miles away from the reception site. Maine CDC began investigating the jail outbreak on August 21.
The outbreak at the Maplecrest rehab center in Madison, which is more than 100 miles from the wedding venue, has also grown, according to Maine CDC.
An employee of the nursing home is a secondary case associated with the wedding outbreak. Sixteen people at Maplecrest have tested positive, including that person.
“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 August 25.
“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.”
Wedding venue cited
The wedding guests attended a reception at Big Moose Inn, according to Maine CDC. The Big Moose Inn is a 37-acre property that includes a restaurant, cabins and campgrounds near Baxter State Park. The inn has hosted weddings since the 1970s and can accommodate 100 guests in its Fredericka’s Restaurant, according to its website.
Maine CDC is investigating other points of connection with the group, including the ceremony held at Tri Town Baptist Church, Shah said last week.
The wedding reception had approximately 65 guests, in violation of the state’s 50-person cap for indoor events, Maine CDC said. The agency delivered an imminent health hazard citation Thursday to the owners of Big Moose Inn for this violation, it said.
In defense, Big Moose Inn staff said they misinterpreted the state’s rules on social distancing, according to a statement sent August 29 to CNN.
“We understood that there could be no more than 50 persons in our largest room. We did make an error in the interpretation of that rule,” the venue said in the statement. “Our interpretation was that we could take a wedding party of more than 50 persons, and split them between two rooms as long as it didn’t exceed our total capacity or a specific room’s capacity.”