Health officials say a fifth, coronovirus-related death in rural Maine early last month has been linked to marriage.
A fourth resident of the Maplerest Rehabilitation Center in Madison has died from the virus – the fifth person linked to a wedding outbreak, held near Millennocket, Maine, on August 7, which has passed away, NBC reported on January 1.
The death was announced on Monday by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which says the total number of cases of the incident now stands at 176.
“In a small community like Madison, to know that you have loved people who live or work in Maplest, it causes you to be concerned for those people,” Steve Austin, a Facebook manages the page that connects people in the region with various types of help during the epidemic, told the news station.
Austin is planning a car parade that will drive near Maplerest on Friday that will show the people there that “they are not alone … they are not going there themselves without any support,” he said.
The wedding, held at the Tri-Town Baptist Church in East Millincet and at the Big Moose Inn on Millinboard Lake, is the source of the state’s largest outbreak ever.
Officials have said that hundreds of people attended the wedding reception at the inn, on that day the total number of people was between 104 and 109 – much higher than the 80-person limit set under a state license.
In addition to the Maple Crest Rehabilitation Center, marriage cases have also been found at Alfred’s York County Jail, where at least 70 coronovirus cases have been reported, according to the Menon CDC.
The wedding was 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 from the Associated Press on Tuesday.
The contents of the Associated Press were used in this report.
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