The opening of a bar led to an outbreak of 46 COVID-19 infections and the closure of a school that affected 650 children


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  • A bar opening in February in rural Illinois led to at least 46 COVID-19 cases and one hospitalization.

  • It was also related to the closure of a school that affected 650 children.

  • The case demonstrates the importance of mitigation measures as sites continue to reopen.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

The opening of a bar in February in rural Illinois led to at least 46 cases of COVID-19, the closure of a school that affected 650 children and the hospitalization of a resident in a long-term care facility, according to a Monday’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .

One attendee had tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the event but had no symptoms, while four others had symptoms of COVID-19 on the day of the event, according to the report.

The CDC reported that despite the spaced tables and signs encouraging distancing and the use of masks, patrons were not constantly wearing masks or maintaining physical distance, and the indoor venue had no outside air flow.

The report “describes what can happen when we don’t follow proper mitigation strategies when everyone is not fully vaccinated,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during a news conference Monday.

Cases spread throughout the community

Illinois health department officials first traced a cluster of cases back to the bar event, which was attended primarily by white men ages 18 to 44. It’s unclear how many people attended, but the venue could hold 100 people.

The state health department investigated further and found 46 cases related to the event, including 26 bar-goers and three employees. An infected person had received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (A single dose only offers partial immunity, and even that takes a few weeks to reach full effectiveness.)

The infected attendees then appeared to transmit the virus to at least 17 other people in the community, including 12 who lived in households with children.

One participant began to experience a runny nose two days after visiting the bar and subsequently infected two student athletes who had been in close contact with the assistant during indoor sports or in-person school instruction.

Ultimately, with 13 staff members being isolated, quarantined, or absent due to their own son being quarantined, the school, which has 650 students, had to close for two weeks, resulting in the loss of 9,100. days of face-to-face schooling.

Another bar event attendee who was working as a nursing assistant at a long-term care facility tested positive for COVID-19 four days after the event. As a result, another facility staff member and two residents became infected, and one resident ended up in the hospital with COVID-19 for a day. All infected employees or residents had previously refused a coronavirus vaccine.

CDC Director: This event shows ‘the impressive transmissibility of this virus’

The event also appeared to affect community COVID-19 rates more generally, with the seven-day average daily incidence more than doubling in the two weeks after.

The study authors said that probably even more people were infected by the event, in part because the interviews with public health officials were voluntary and many community members involved did not want to share details about who they had been in contact with. They added that the researchers likely missed some asymptomatic cases and their contacts.

“As we work to vaccinate more people and community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the great impact of a single event, affecting fragile communities, schools, families and seniors,” Walensky said.

She continued: “Emphasizes the impressive transmissibility of this virus and the continued need for layered prevention strategies, including reducing the number of people indoors, improving building ventilation, and utilizing outdoor spaces. as weather permits. “

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