One of the 37 people infected by a COVID-19 outbreak that originated from an Aug. 7 wedding reception at a Millinocket inn has died, Millinocket Regional Hospital said Friday.
“We are sorry to say that this patient passed away early this afternoon,” hospital CEO Dr. Robert Peterson said in a message to the community. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family as they cope with this difficult loss.”
The woman’s death comes a day after the state cited the Big Moose Inn for an “imminent health hazard” citation. About 65 guests attended the wedding reception, exceeding the state’s current 50-person limit on indoor gatherings.
The 37 cases associated with the wedding marked an increase of five since Thursday, when state officials last discussed the outbreak, said Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 32 cases the Maine CDC reported on Thursday, three were people who hadn’t attended the wedding.
Asked about the first death tied to the outbreak, Long said he could not comment on individual cases.
The reception followed a wedding ceremony that took place at the Tri Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket.
State officials haven’t determined whether the church will face penalties. The inn doesn’t face financial penalties right now, officials have said, but it could face fines and a temporary license suspension if it continued to violate state health rules. The citation is an official notice that the inn violated one or more state health rules, and it asks the inn’s operators to comply going forward. In addition to exceeding the 50-person limit on gatherings, the inn’s restaurant was cited for operating in excess of its licensed capacity.
The wedding outbreak brought a spike in cases to an area that had seen few cases in recent months, and state health officials said earlier this week that they were worried infected wedding guests could cause “secondary waves” of COVID-19 infections as they returned to their communities following the wedding.
As of Sunday, Millinocket had recorded 14 coronavirus cases after recording no cases for the first five months of the pandemic, according to Maine CDC data. East Millinocket’s case total had risen to 13 after the town had recorded five or fewer during the first five months. And Medway’s case total had risen by one, to 13, since earlier in the pandemic.