coronavirus outbreak

Outbreak Linked to Maine Wedding, Reception Increases to 144 Cases and 2 Deaths

The events on Aug. 7 took place in Millinocket and appear to have spread to a church in Sanford and York County Jail, according to Maine CDC

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The number of people infected by COVID-19 outbreaks tied to a wedding and reception in Millinocket, Maine, continues to climb almost a month after they happened.

On Thursday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the number of people infected with the virus linked to the events on Aug. 7 at Tri-Town Baptist Church and The Big Moose Inn had increased to 144 and the number of deaths connected to them had gone up to two.

In an afternoon news briefing, Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said he was especially concerned about York County, which includes cities like Saco, Biddeford and Sanford.

"About half of the outbreaks across all of Maine are in York County," Shah said.

He added that the county's positivity rate for the virus was roughly, "three times higher than the state average."

Shah also said there was evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 happening in York County and highlighted two outbreaks.

One, at the Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford has now spiked to ten cases, while an outbreak at the York County Jail and facilities had increased to 72 cases.

As of Thursday, Shah said the jail had definitely been linked to the wedding because of a staff member who attended it but his agency was still investigating whether or not an epidemiological link between the Sanford church and wedding existed.

Also Thursday, York County officials held their own press conference where they announced they would be hiring a third-party investigator to review what COVID-19 safety protocols were or were not being followed at the jail and by whom.

According to York County Manager, Gregory Zinser, face-covering requirements were in place and would be one of the measures reviewed.

"How did this happen at the facility, with clear protocols in place," Zinser outlined when prompted about what types of questions the investigation would attempt to answer. "We don't entirely know what led to the current situation and so we owe it to everyone involved to really understand the facts."

Zinser also said he hoped to have that third-party investigator named within the next few days.

Maine CDC said it is not discouraging anyone from traveling to York County or its beaches this Labor Day weekend. It did say it strongly encouraged anyone who did so to physically distance and wear a face covering.

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