A bar opening event in rural Illinois in February was linked to 46 cases of Covid-19, the closure of a school that affected 650 children, and the hospitalization of a resident of a long-term care facility, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Weekly Report on Monday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health identified 29 people who tested positive for Covid-19 or had symptoms similar to Covid-19 within 14 days of the event. All 29 cases were confirmed by nucleic acid or Covid-19 antigen amplification tests, except for one probable symptomatic case who did not receive the test.
These bar goers had close contact with at least 71 other people. Of the 37 close contacts tested for Covid-19, 17 tested positive within 14 days of contact.
Two of the secondary cases of Covid-19 were student athletes in close contact of a bar attendant with Covid-19 who attended indoor sports and face-to-face classes. The school district was closed for two weeks beginning February 18 after 13 staff members were unable to work due to isolation, quarantine or their quarantined child.
Three of the secondary Covid-19 cases were residents of a long-term care facility in close contact with a bar attendant who worked as a certified nursing assistant. The nurse tested positive for Covid-19 four days after the bar’s opening event. One of these secondary Covid-19 cases was hospitalized within 14 days of the positive test result and was discharged the same day.
Two weeks after the event, the average daily incidence of Covid-19 in the county more than doubled to at least 86 cases per 100,000 people, according to the report.
“Bars may play a role in the community spread of COVID-19 due to limited use of masks when eating or drinking and a lack of constant physical distancing,” the authors wrote in the report. “These findings show that SARS-CoV transmission originates in a business such as a bar and not only affects customers and employees of the bar, but can also affect an entire community.”
The event was held indoors with no outside air flow. Attendees cited inconsistent use of masks and disregard for six-foot physical distance guidelines. Although the total number of people who attended the event is unknown, the bar seats about 100 people.
The high percentage of symptomatic people linked to the event, 82.6%, as well as the reluctance of many people to disclose contacts suggest that the actual case count was higher than what was found, according to the CDC report.
“As community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the importance of businesses and individuals adhering to public health prevention and mitigation guidelines to reduce further community transmission, including isolation after receiving a diagnosis. of COVID-19 and while experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, even as vaccination efforts expand, ”the authors wrote.