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State suspends business license of Millinocket inn linked to COVID-19 outbreak

The inn hosted a wedding reception on August 7 that has now been linked to 87 COVID-19 cases across Maine.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Editor's Note: The above video aired on Wednesday, August 26.

Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Thursday the state has suspended the business license of the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah reported on August 20 that Maine CDC issued an imminent health hazard citation to the inn, noting the venue exceeded the indoor gathering limit of 50 individuals when it hosted the wedding reception.

Lambrew said Thursday that Maine DHHS has since returned to the inn and found there were continued deficiencies. Every day the organization operates outside of the suspension will result in fines, according to Lambrew.

The inn hosted a wedding reception on August 7, which has now been linked to 87 COVID-19 cases across the state. The Millinocket outbreak has also been linked to smaller outbreaks at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Madison, as well as at the York County Jail complex.

"We did last week issue a imminent health hazard, because what we know was a violation of our policies. There was a return site visit in which there were continued deficiencies so we have suspended the license for the Big Moose Inn. Every day that the organization operates outside of that suspension, there are fines associated with it. I know we are working with the Big Moose Inn to bring them into compliance because the goal of all of our public health emergency enforcement tools is less about punishment and more about prevention and how do we prevent this from happening again," Lambrew said Thursday. "So indeed, in the case of the Big Moose Inn, they are currently under suspension."

Of the 87 cases that have been linked to the Millinocket wedding/reception:

  • 30 are primary cases, meaning people who attended the wedding/reception
  • 35 are secondary cases, meaning people who came in close contact with someone who attended the wedding/reception
  • 22 are tertiary cases, meaning people who were close contacts of a secondary case

Of the 87 people, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said about 68 percent are symptomatic.

Of the 87 cases linked to the Millinocket outbreak, nine are at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Madison. Five are among residents and four are among staff.

Of the 87 cases linked to the Millinocket outbreak, 18 are among people associated with the York County Jail complex. Nine are among staff members of the jail, two are among other staff members at the complex, and seven are among inmates.

Of the positive COVID-19 cases associated with the wedding reception in Millinocket, one has died, Millinocket Regional Hospital announced Friday.

The hospital previously reported they had one person associated with the outbreak admitted to the hospital. 

"We are sorry to share that this patient passed away early this afternoon," Millinocket Regional Hospital CEO Robert Peterson wrote in an update Friday. "Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family as they cope with this difficult loss."

On Tuesday during the Maine CDC coronavirus briefing, Dr. Shah explained how the Maplecrest and York County outbreaks linked to the one in Millinocket. He said a guest who attended the wedding infected their parent. The parent then had contact with one of their other children, who works at Maplecrest. The person who works at Maplecrest then infected five people at the facility - four residents and one staff member.

Dr. Shah said all of this unfolded in a span of about two and a half weeks.

"That's just an example of how quickly this virus can spread. From a wedding to a guest to a parent to another child to a nursing home," Dr. Shah said.

The Millinocket outbreak was announced by Maine CDC on Monday, August 17. The wedding, which was at the Tri-Town Baptist Church, and the reception occurred on August 7.

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