A Washington state wedding last month that hosted more than 300 people may now be linked to deadly coronavirus outbreaks at two long-term care facilities, officials said Friday.
The Nov. 7 wedding at a private location near Ritzville, Wash., first gained attention when nearly 40 attendees from the neighboring Grant County had tested positive for COVID-19 within 10 days of the event.
Washington state health guidelines at the time limited wedding ceremonies to 30 people.
The Grant County Health District is now saying that staff at two long-term care facilities who attended the wedding, which has been labeled by officials as a “super-spreader” event, contracted the virus.
According to ABC News, health officials said that the staff members worked while they were contagious, before they were aware that they were carrying the infection.
It was unclear as of Friday how many cases could be traced back to these employees and the event.
“They care for all residents so it will not be known which cases are tied to the staff,” Grant County Health District administrator Theresa Adkinson told ABC in an email.
ABC noted that there have been 54 COVID-19 deaths in the county, including 29 associated with long-term care facilities.
Adkinson added that the department plans to do a “deeper data analysis” once the recent infection surge is better under control.
The health department did not say how many facility staff members had tested positive.
In a Thursday press release announcing the deaths at the care facilities, the county health department urged residents to stay “home as much as possible” to protect higher-risk populations from the virus.
“Our most vulnerable community members — elderly, immunocompromised, and those with chronic conditions — are especially at risk of complications due to a COVID-19 infection and we must continue to take measures to protect them from this disease,” the statement read.
“Your choice to gather with those outside your household could lead to additional cases of COVID-19 and even death,” the statement continued. “Please protect those you love, by staying home.”
Weddings in other states have also been identified as “super-spreader” events for COVID-19. In August, a wedding in rural Maine was linked to 177 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, including six in a long-term care facility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As of Thursday, the Washington State Department of Health has recorded more than 174,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,925 fatalities due to the virus.