MILLINOCKET, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced Monday that it has opened an investigation into a COVID-19 outbreak associated with a wedding reception at Big Moose Inn in Millinocket.
On Monday, Maine CDC said 24 people associated with the event, which was on August 7, have tested positive for COVID-19. Of that total, Maine CDC has identified 18 people who attended the reception and six others who had close contact with reception attendees. All of the confirmed cases are Maine residents.
In a Facebook post Monday, Millinocket Regional Hospital CEO Dr. Robert Peterson said there are 28 confirmed cases stemming from the reception. He also said that number is expected to rise as testing continues and pending results are reported.
"What (the hospital is) reporting is the total number of individuals who are positive, what we're reporting is the number that are associated with the outbreak. As we learn more those numbers will likely converge," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Tuesday.
Approximately 65 guests attended the event, according to Maine CDC.
Maine CDC is now working to find out more precisely where people got infected, as well as where they may have spread COVID-19. They are also looking into what precautions were taken by the venue and organizers, such as whether or not guests' temperatures were taken, distance between tables, etc.
Maine CDC is also looking for patterns, such as whether or not the people who tested positive were clustered in one part of the venue compared to those who did not test positive.
"It's going to take some time to make sure we get all of this right rather than rush to judgement and say 'Aha! We have figured out exactly what happened,'" Dr. Shah said. "In order to know exactly what happened, we've got to make sure we take a look under every single rock and stone, and that's what's underway right now."
Maine CDC continues to conduct case investigations and contact tracing for guests, staff, and people who potentially came in close contact with confirmed cases during and after the event. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases that are epidemiologically linked.
Anyone who attended an event at Big Moose Inn on August 7, and who has symptoms of COVID-19, should call their health care provider before seeking medical care. COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, or body aches among many others. A comprehensive list of symptoms can be found here.
As part of its investigation, Maine CDC is communicating with Big Moose Inn about the nature of the event and adherence to State requirements.
After the announcement by Maine CDC, the Millinocket Elks Lodge announced its closure, saying it would update the public when more information is available.
The Maine CDC says those who attend social gatherings should follow physical distancing guidelines, including wearing cloth face coverings when not eating and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between people and 6 feet between household groups as much as possible.
Maine CDC also issued the following reminders:
- The number of individuals who can gather in a shared space must not exceed the limit established by the Governor’s Executive Order, currently set at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors and fewer if the space cannot accommodate 5 people per 1,000 feet.
- Further breaking a gathering up into smaller groups is encouraged to reduce potential exposure.
- If a space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the 6-foot distancing requirement, occupancy must be limited to allow for such compliance.
- Face coverings should be worn in public settings when physical distancing is not possible.
For questions specific to cases or potential cases, individuals may call Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.