More than five weeks after a wedding and reception in rural Maine, people with coronavirus traced back to an outbreak there are still dying.
On Monday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the death of a fourth resident at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Madison. That person is the fifth connected to the wedding who has died.
Overall, the Aug. 7 wedding and reception, which took place at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket and the Tri-Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket, are now linked to 176 COVID-19 cases.
State of Maine inspections found multiple safety violations on different trips to the inn that eventually resulted in the facility having its health licenses suspended. They’ve since been reinstated.
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One of the violations stems from the venue going over the state's capacity for indoor events during the pandemic. Only 50 people were allowed under Maine’s COVID-19 safety regulations, but 65 people attended the wedding.
In Madison on Monday, members of the community say the deaths of loved ones at Maplecrest were a “difficult” situation for the community to handle.
Steve Austin, who has been managing a Facebook page oriented toward getting people in the Madison area different forms of help during the COVID-19 pandemic, says he’s planning a car parade near Maplecrest this Friday to raise spirits in what has been a grim few weeks.
“In a small community like Madison, to know that you have loved ones who either live or work at Maplecrest, it does cause you to be worried for those people,” said Austin, who added his goal with the parade was to show people at the center, “they’re not alone... they’re not just being left there by themselves with no support.”
According to an email Monday from Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long, retesting at the center revealed 11 more cases at Maplecrest. The case total is now at 39 at the facility, with 24 residents and 15 staff testing positive for the virus.
The other large outbreak connected to the wedding, which occurred at the York County Jail, had topped 70 as of last Thursday but remained unchanged on Monday.
The car parade outside the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center will assemble at 1:30 p.m. in an area near the rear of the facility and is scheduled to begin at 2.