Death toll due to virus related to main marriage has increased to 7

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – At least seven people have died in Maine after a wedding reception held over the summer in violation of state virus guidelines, attracting people to Maine.

The wedding reception in August at the Big Moss Inn in Millinket has been linked to more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

Maine officials have identified overlap between wedding receptions 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 called a staff member of a Madison rehabilitation center, which is the site of six of the seven deaths, attended the event.

The cases of virus stems from marriage have sprung hundreds of miles in a state that largely controlled the spread of coronovirus through the summer. Since March, less than 5,000 cases of the virus have been reported in Maine.

But the increasing number of marriage-related cases, which were reduced to 50 people state guidelines or indoor ceremonies, may undo some of that progress if it continues to move forward. Officials have said that more than 65 people attended the wedding.

The wedding was also annulled by Todd Bell, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford. The Maine CDC is currently investigating to determine if an outbreak in the church is associated with an outbreak of marriage.

The Calvary Baptist Church issued a statement on Tuesday stating that “many Calvary Baptist Church members attended the wedding”. 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.

“Calvary Baptist Church has the legal right to meet. The right of a local Christian church, a Jewish synagogue, or a Muslim mosque to assemble for their religious services has been respected in our nation’s history since its inception, ”the statement said. “These religious activities are fully protected under the First Amendment to our United States Constitution.”

Bell has been criticized for government efforts to control coronovirus, and videos show that he has conducted services without the use of social disturbances. He is a lawyer known nationally for defending the religious rights of churches. Neither Bell nor Gibbs responded to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Associated Press writer David Sharp contributed to this report.