7 Nursing Home Residents Died of COVID After Staff Attended 300-Person Wedding in Washington

A November wedding ceremony that violated Washington's public health guidelines has now potentially been linked to the deaths of seven nursing home residents.

Grant County health officials announced last week that seven residents of three separate long-term care facilities had died following previously-reported coronavirus outbreaks, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the county to 54. There are also 4 additional deaths that are still under review.

“Our investigations have determined that there were long term care staff who tested positive for COVID-19 who attended the large wedding in Ritzville,” the health authorities wrote in a news release, noting that “because staff in these facilities care for entire units, direct contact with associated patients is not known.”

All of the residents — men who were in their 70s, 80s and 90s — had underlying health conditions, which put them at higher risk of experiencing severe complications from the highly contagious respiratory virus, according to the authorities.

The Grant County Health District told The Washington Post in a statement that they will be conducting full contact tracing on the staffers who tested positive to determine if there is a definitive link to the wedding.

Local health authorities have continually called on all residents who attended the wedding to get tested for COVID-19 — and to stay home in order to prevent infecting others.

“We are very thankful to those attendees who have gone in for testing and are staying home. This helps protect their friends, coworkers, and communities from this illness” Theresa Adkinson, District Administrator, wrote in a Nov. statement.

“The most vulnerable community members— elderly, immunocompromised, and those with chronic conditions — are especially at risk,” health authorities wrote in a subsequent news release. “The best way to do that is by staying home as much as possible. Your choice to gather with those outside your household could lead to additional cases of COVID-19 and even death. Please protect those you love."

The “large” wedding was held on Nov. 7 at a private location in the rural town of Ritzville, authorities previously revealed.

The event violated state guidelines, which limits wedding ceremonies to no more than 30 people. Since then, there have been more than 30 confirmed cases associated with the outbreak.

The additional deaths come as coronavirus cases have continued to rise in the state. According to The Post, hospitalizations increased by about 20 percent last week, and deaths rose by around 167 percent.

As of Monday morning there have been at least 185,505 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state and over 3,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

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