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147 Cases Of COVID-19 And 3 Deaths Have Been Connected To A Maine Wedding

Cases connected to the Aug. 7 wedding included 72 at a county jail and 19 at a nursing home, health officials said.

Last updated on September 8, 2020, at 2:04 p.m. ET

Posted on September 4, 2020, at 7:40 p.m. ET

Big Moose Inn / Facebook

A Maine wedding reception in early August has been connected to 147 cases of the coronavirus and three deaths, health officials reported.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that the 147 people included both those who attended the ceremony and people who contracted the virus indirectly. The three COVID-19–related deaths were not among people who attended the wedding.

Robert Long, a spokesperson for the Maine CDC, told BuzzFeed News the number includes 72 cases at the York County Jail and 19 cases at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison, Maine.

“One of the things that we’ve learned over the last six months … is that no outbreak is an island,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of Maine CDC, during a Sept. 3 press briefing. “What this really hammers home is that outbreaks are not isolated events. One outbreak can quickly lead to several more outbreaks, especially in a close geographic area.”

The post-wedding dinner for the Aug. 7 reception took place at Big Moose Inn, Cabins, and Campground in Millinocket, Maine.

One wedding attendee was a staff member of the York County Jail who later tested positive, Shah said, adding that 18 other jail employees and seven members of their families, along with 46 inmates, have all tested positive for COVID-19.

The first indication of the coronavirus at the York County Jail was Aug. 19, 12 days after the wedding, according to a statement from County Manager Greg Zinser. As a result of the spread, the jail has temporarily stopped accepting new inmates.

The outbreak at the Maplecrest nursing home included eight residents and seven staffers, according to Shah, who said a "secondary contact of a guest" from the wedding was a staff member at the nursing home.

Maplecrest did not immediately return BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.

The Big Moose Inn said in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday that it had received a citation from the state officials after failing to follow venue capacity guidelines for the post-wedding dinner reception.

"We understood that there could be no more than 50 persons in our largest room," the venue said, adding that the wedding party of more than 50 was split between two rooms. "We did make an error in the interpretation of that rule."

The statement also said the venue's license had been temporarily suspended due to "continued violation of restrictions" in the dining area after a state inspection.

"While we cannot be sure the virus was fully spread at our facility, we know that there are things that we can be doing better," Big Moose Inn's statement added.

NBC News reported that 10 people with the Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford, Maine, have contracted the virus in connection to the Millinocket wedding, and that the pastor officiated the wedding. Long said the church outbreak is not linked to the investigation.

The Maine governor’s executive orders say no more than 50 people can gather indoors, 100 people outdoors, and no more than five people per 1,000 square feet for indoor events.

There have been 4,164 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 134 deaths in Maine, according to the state agency.

“I’m asking you as you go into this celebratory weekend, the end of summer, the end of this cruel summer, please do your part to help us keep a grip on COVID-19,” Shah said Thursday.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.