The coronavirus death toll linked to an indoor August wedding in Maine has reached at least seven, state officials said Tuesday.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the wedding and its reception in Millinocket are now connected to 176 confirmed cases of COVID-19, agency spokesman Robert Long said in a statement.
Maine public health officials have traced outbreaks in the state back to the wedding, including at York County Jail and a Madison rehabilitation center, after one staff member from each attended the wedding.
A total of 80 cases have been confirmed at the building that houses the York County Jail. Thirty-nine people tested positive at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison, including 24 residents and 15 staff members.
Six of the seven documented deaths connected to the wedding have occurred at the rehabilitation center. None of the seven people who have died attended the wedding or reception, Long said.
The Aug. 7 wedding hosted about 65 people indoors, even though Gov. Janet MillsJanet Mills143 coronavirus cases, one death, jail outbreak now linked to Maine wedding Number of coronavirus cases linked to Maine wedding rises to 123 24 people contract COVID-19 following wedding in Maine MORE (D) had ordered a 50-person limit for indoor gatherings due to the pandemic. The wedding was held at Tri Town Baptist Church and the reception at the Big Moose Inn Cabins and Campground.
State officials are investigating whether the business violated the coronavirus orders by hosting the wedding.
Public health officials have traced cases back to the wedding throughout August. It first found 24 cases by mid-August. By the end of the month, 123 cases had been linked to the event, and by Sept. 3, the number had reached 143.
Officials previously reported that one woman who did not attend the wedding died in August after contracting COVID-19 from an attendee.
Laurie Cormier, the owner of Big Moose Inn, released a statement last month saying the staff’s “hearts go out to the family, those affected by the virus who were at the wedding, and those who have been impacted since then,” according to WAGM.
Maine officials have tracked the spread of the virus from the wedding across hundreds of miles in the state and worry it could undo the state’s progress in combating the coronavirus, The Associated Press noted.
The state has confirmed 4,415 COVID-19 cases and 137 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The New York Times categorizes Maine as a state where new cases are “lower but going up.” The state has a seven-day average of 29 new cases per day.
State officials are looking into whether an outbreak at Calvary Baptist Church in Stanford is connected to the wedding, after Pastor Todd Bell officiated the wedding.
The church released a statement Tuesday obtained by the AP saying that “a number of Calvary Baptist Church members attended” the wedding but added that the church was making efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading during its 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. “These religious activities are also fully protected under the First Amendment to our United States Constitution.”