By PATRICK WHITTLE Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — At least seven people have died in connection to a coronavirus outbreak that continues to sicken people in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.

The August wedding reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket is linked to more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Maine authorities have identified overlaps between the wedding reception and outbreaks elsewhere in the state. An employee of the York County Jail attended the wedding, Maine CDC officials have said. Maine health officials have also said an outbreak at a Madison rehabilitation center, which is the site of six of the seven deaths, is connected to the wedding because an employee of the facility lives in the same household as a person who attended.

The virus cases stemming from the wedding have spanned hundreds of miles in a state that had largely controlled the spread of the coronavirus through the summer. Maine has reported less than 5,000 cases of the virus in total since March.

But the growing number of cases related to the wedding, which exceeded the state’s guidelines of 50 people or less at indoor gatherings, could undo some of that progress if it continues to swell. Authorities have said more than 65 people attended the wedding.

The six people from the Madison rehabilitation facility who died were all residents of that facility and none of them attended the wedding reception, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine CDC.

“Maine CDC is concerned about where we are, and I’m asking everyone else to share in that concern. COVID-19, right now, is not on the other side of the fence. It is in our yards,” Shah said. “The gains that Maine has made against COVID-19 are ones that could, and unfortunately can, be washed away.”

The wedding was also officiated by pastor Todd Bell of Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford. The Maine CDC is currently investigating to determine if an outbreak at the church is connected to the wedding outbreak. That outbreak has sickened 10 people, Shah said.

Calvary Baptist Church issued a statement on Tuesday that said “a number of Calvary Baptist Church members attended” the wedding reception. The statement said the church is taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus, and it will defend its right to continue holding services.

“The Calvary Baptist Church has a legal right to meet. The authority of a local Christian church, a Jewish synagogue, or a Muslim mosque to gather for their respective religious services is a time-honored part of our nation’s history since its inception,” the statement said. “These religious activities are also fully protected under the First Amendment to our United States Constitution.”

Bell has been critical of government attempts to control coronavirus, and videos show he has held services without the use of social distancing. He hired a lawyer known nationally for defending the religious rights of churches.

Neither Bell nor the attorney working with the church, David Gibbs of Florida, personally responded to a request Tuesday for comment.

Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long said the agency’s investigations suggest “multiple potential points of transmission related to the August 7 wedding and reception.” The agency is working to limit the spread of the virus and support people affected by it, he said.

Shah said the state’s percent positivity rate has ticked up to 0.63% for the previous seven days. At one point, the rate was less than half a percentage point. The rate remains well below the national average of about 5%, Shah said.
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Associated Press writer David Sharp contributed to this report.
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This story has been corrected to show that an employee of the Madison facility lives in a household with someone who attended the wedding. The employee did not attend.

(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (21)
  1. A J says:

    History will not remember “president” Trump or the GOP kindly at all -this will be a cautionary tale for future generations about how ignorance and the denying of science can destroy a nation and kill people. Trump really is the most incompetent President this nation has ever known. TRUMP.. UNSTABLE NON-GENIUS NARCISSIST KNOWN SERIAL LIAR! …” HE’S IMPOTUS FOR A REASON. “COME NOVEMBER AMERICANS WILL REMEMBER!” 45 will sacrifice millions for his personal gain, happening now! Your president wants all the authority, none of the responsibility or accountability. Trump Death count keeps going up daily!

    1. Mises says:

      Lets look at real science. This is all history repeating itself. The “Trump administration” is not much different than every other administration. The big war big bank slave machine is chugging away wile you “watch the swinging coin”. Why don’t you get your free book mises.org/begin. Learn praxiological science, and set your mind free, because you are wasting your efforts with politics. In case you didn’t get the notice, government is obsolete!

    2. Frank Davis says:

      Wow, ignorance runs deep in you. Dems think there are 27 sexes, one can change their sex by just wishing it and an unborn baby is not a human. Talk about the party of anti-science.

  2. sifting says:

    how many of these decease had underlying conditions or over weight?

    1. 1eyeninja says:

      those deceased were alive and thriving until covid took them out, you equivocating FW.

      1. Seamusmeboy says:

        What a bunch of crock you are spouting. Read the damn article…no let me help you as you don’t seem to be able to comprehend what you read. The title of this article and everything about it is pure conjecture. In the first paragraph it shows the connection as a contact of a contact, and it doesn’t even say that the person was Covid positive. Guidelines say that contacts of contacts need not quarantine or the like. Aside from that, they establish absolutely no connection between the wedding and the outbreak at the facility.

        “Maine health officials have also said an outbreak at a Madison rehabilitation center, which is the site of six of the seven deaths, is connected to the wedding because an employee of the facility lives in the same household as a person who attended.

        This story has been corrected to show that an employee of the Madison facility lives in a household with someone who attended the wedding. The employee did not attend.

  3. 1eyeninja says:

    “These religious activities are also fully protected under the First Amendment to our United States Constitution.”

    memo to Todd Bell and David Gibbs:
    you have BLOOD on your hands and your “rights” STOP where they sicken and kill others who did not even participate in these “rights”. YOU should be immediately defrocked and sued for everything you and the church owns to compensate the families of the victims of your “rights”.

    1. Marty says:

      I heartily agree. Seems the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” was skipped during his pastoral education.

      1. Frank Davis says:

        The commandment is “Thou shalt not MURDER”. Murder is not the same as kill

    2. Frank A Davis says:

      I can fix ignorance. I can’t fix stupid. Go read the Constitution

  4. It just reinforces the fact that isolation will do nothing to end this. People will continue to contract the virus and get sick (or not). It will run it’s natural course no matter what we do, whether we like it or not.

  5. Alice Walker says:

    Are any involuntary manslaughter charges being set for anyone, including the bridge and groom?

  6. East7 says:

    https://nypost.com/2020/09/05/three-dead-147-infected-after-covid-super-spreader-wedding/

    It seems the majority of the victims who died were in their 80s and 90s. At least the ones mentioned in this Post linked article were. It’s sad yet they were foolish to not protect themselves.

    1. They were in a nursing home! The virus was brought to them by people who did not follow rules.

  7. tim says:

    Was anyone at the wedding confirmed to have COVID-19 or is this just a version of the game “Six Degrees of Seperation With Kevin Bacon”?

  8. Yo says:

    Nursing homes or Rehab hospitals should be testing their employees for covid-19

  9. Phynius Phartwinkle says:

    Will you brainwashed Leftist NPCs frigging READ THE ARTICLE?!?
    The headline is misleading trash- Designed to get you puppets to start yapping
    “That Damn Trump” hogwash about it. What a bunch TOOLS you are.

  10. John says:

    This is such BS. I agree with tim above… it’s all Kevin Bacon’s fault because everyone can be linked to him in 6 degrees or less.

  11. Religious rights? Religion is the biggest scam!

    1. Your Mom says:

      The biggest scam and the biggest religion is now your Government. Without the right to your God, government becomes your God. When government is God, humanity has lost.

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