- A 300-person wedding in Ritzville, Washington caused two coronavirus outbreaks in the state after 17 guests tested positive for COVID-19.
- Local health officials are asking all attendees to self-quarantine and take COVID-19 tests, but they're unsure if their requests will be met.
- This isn't the first case of a wedding that became a "super-spreader" event. Nuptials in Maine, California, New York, Kansas, and Pennsylvania have led to coronavirus outbreaks.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
A 300-person Washington wedding on November 7 has since led to two outbreaks elsewhere in the state, according to local health officials.
On Monday, Grant County officials found 17 people who attended the Ritzville, Washington wedding tested positive for COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes. The officials did not specify where the two outbreaks occurred; Insider has contacted the health department for more information.
Now, the officials have asked all of the wedding attendees to get COVID-19 tests and self-quarantine until November 21 in an attempt to prevent further disease spread. Still, they're unsure if their requests will be met.
"GCHD is trying to notify attendees about possible exposure, but with more than 300 people attending the wedding from many communities, local health jurisdictions are unlikely to reach them all," the officials wrote on their website.
It's unclear whether the wedding was held indoors. Now, wedding with more than 30 people and all indoor weddings are prohibited in the county.
This isn't the first time a wedding has become a "super-spreader" event that resulted in coronavirus outbreaks in other vicinities.
Weddings have become hotspots for coronavirus spread
Other states have also experienced coronavirus outbreaks as the result of weddings.
An August 7 wedding in rural Maine led to seven deaths, and were all people who didn't attend the event but were later infected when wedding attendees spread the coronavirus elsewhere in the state.
According to a a November 13 report from the CDC, the August 7 wedding reception at Big Moose Inn in rural Maine included five people who tested positive for COVID-19, the infection the coronavirus causes.
After launching an investigation into these five cases, CDC officials found 30 more COVID-19 infections directly linked to the wedding, plus 27 in the surrounding area.
Officials continued to find cases linked to the wedding and tallied a total of 177 cases and three other hospitalizations. The cases spread to a correctional facility 200 miles away from the wedding venue, and a long-term care facility 100 miles away.
In July, a San Francisco couple and eight of their wedding guests tested positive for COVID-19 after a city official shut down their secret 100-person event at Saints Peter & Paul Church.
"This is the perfect example of why public health officials have been trying to convince people of the problems with getting together in crowds," John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley told the San Francisco Chronicle of the incident.
Why weddings are fertile ground for the virus to spread
In July, as warnings about large gatherings mounted, the WHO warned that singing, talking, or yelling in enclosed spaces like restaurants, bars, places of worship, and wedding venues could spread COVID-19.
Previously, research suggested coronavirus particles from an infected person immediately drop to the ground when released, making them unlikely to infect another person who's six feet or more away.
But researchers now believe the virus could spread differently indoors, regardless of how soft or loud a person speaks. If indoors, an infected person could release aerosols, or minuscule particles that float in the air. These aerosol particles become trapped inside due to poor ventilation and are more likely to come into contact with another person than a droplet that falls to the ground.
"In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out," WHO wrote.
Weddings fit that bill, and ones in New York, Pennsylvania, and Kansas have also been tied to local coronavirus outbreaks.
Houston-based wedding planner Sarah Bett told the New York Times that it's nearly impossible to get every guest to abide by coronavirus safety protocols, especially when different venues have different rules.
"Some venues make the bride wear masks, while others say those walking down the aisle are exempt," she told the Times. "It's a little lawless down here."
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