3 coronavirus deaths linked to Maine indoor wedding reception, officials confirm

FILE - Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during a press conference about COVID-19 at Maine Emergency Management Agency in Augusta. (Staff photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed three deaths and 147 positive coronavirus cases linked to an indoor wedding wedding reception that occurred on Aug. 7, at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, which violated attendance limits.

The Aug. 7 wedding reception, which involved approximately 110 people, exceeded the 80-person seating limit on the business' license.

On Aug. 21, Millinocket Regional Hospital said one female inpatient admission linked to the event had died adding that due to the outbreak adding that it would extend its no visitation policy and limit services to essential medical care through Aug. 30.

Health officials had suspended the inn’s license on Aug. 26, after it was cited and a follow-up visit noted further violations of public health guidelines, according to WMTW TV-8.

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The TV outlet said the license suspension revealed face masks were not being worn, social distancing was not maintained and the tables in the certain areas were not 6 feet apart.

Despite their license being revoked, The Maine Department of Health and Human Services reinstated the business license of the Inn on Aug. 28, according to local reports.

Laurie Cormier, owner of the Big Moose Inn said despite state health mandates to limit guest capacity to 80 people, they allowed the total number of attendees to be split between separate rooms. 

"We understood that there could be no more than 50 persons in our largest room. We did make an error in the interpretation of that rule. Our interpretation was that we could take a wedding party of more than 50 persons, and split them between two rooms as long as it didn’t exceed our total capacity or a specific room’s capacity," Cormier said. 

She added that the hotel provides signage to ensure guest know that face masks are required at all times and that the business has increased sanitizing and safety measures before the event took place. 

"The wedding attendees were all screened prior to entering, which helped to give us assurance that there were no symptoms being shown from anyone at the Big Moose Inn over the course of that weekend," she added. 

She confirmed that two employees tested postiive for the virus following the wedding while 23 employees tested negative amd five staff members self-quarantined. 

Robert Long, spokesman for Maine’s CDC, told FOX News last week that 32 initial infections appeared to be primary cases, or people who physically attended the wedding. Meanwhile, 33 were secondary cases and 20 were tertiary cases (people who had close contact with attendees or secondary cases, respectively).

In a streamed press briefing on Aug. 25, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, described the outbreak as a “series of concentric rings ... all emanating from this one Aug. 7 event.”

One of those rings is an outbreak at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation & Living Center in Madison, Maine, he said.

Shah said the coronavirus outbreak reached the nursing home because a wedding guest infected their parent, and the parent infected another one of their children who works at the nursing home.

Within two-and-a-half weeks, four residents and another staff member were infected, Shah said.

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Aside from the nursing home, the wedding virus outbreak also managed to spread to a county jail located about 230 miles away.

“This morning our disease detectives identified a connection between the wedding/reception in Millinocket and the York County Jail complex,” Shah said during the streamed press briefing on Aug. 25.

Shah explained that a staff member at the jail attended the wedding, and was also "among the very first confirmed cases at the jail."

Shah added that the outbreaks are prime examples that "demonstrate how aggressive and how opportunistic this virus is.”

Read the full statement from Laurie Cormier, owner of the Big Moose in, here: 

FOX News contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.