A February bar opening event in rural Illinois saw 46 Covid-19 cases, a school closure that affected 650 children, and the hospitalization of a resident in a long-term care facility, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Morbidity and Mortality 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 Covid-19 antigen or nucleic acid amplification tests, with the exception of one likely symptomatic case that did not receive a test.
These bar-goers were in close contact with at least 71 others. Of the 37 close contacts that were tested for Covid-19, 17 tested positive within 14 days of contact.
Two of the secondary Covid-19 cases were student athletes who were in close contact with a bar-goer with Covid-19 and who participated in indoor exercise and personal classes. The school district was closed for two weeks starting February 18, after 13 employees were unable to work due to their child’s isolation, quarantine, or quarantine.
Three of the secondary Covid-19 cases were residents of long-term care facilities who were in close contact with a bar visitor who was working as a certified nursing assistant. The nurse tested positive for Covid-19 four days after the bar opened. One of these secondary Covid-19 cases was hospitalized within 14 days of the positive test result and discharged the same day.
Two weeks after the event, the average seven-day daily Covid-19 incidence in the county has more than doubled to at least 86 cases per 100,000 people, the report said.
“Bars can play a role in the spread of COVID-19 in the community due to the limited use of masks when eating or drinking and lack of consistent physical distance,” the authors wrote in the report. “These results show that SARS-CoV transmission has its origins in a business like a bar not only affects the customers and employees of the bar, but can also affect an entire community.”
The event took place indoors with no outside airflow. Participants cited inconsistent use of masks and failure to follow guidelines for physical distancing of two meters. Although the total number of people who attended the event is unknown, the bar seats approximately 100 people.
The high percentage of symptomatic people associated with the event (82.6%), as well as the reluctance of many people to disclose contacts, suggest that the actual number of cases was higher than established, according to the CDC report.
“As businesses reopen in the community, these results underscore the importance of businesses and individuals who adhere to public health prevention and mitigation guidelines to reduce additional transmission in the community, including isolation after receiving COVID -19 diagnosis and if symptoms similar to COVID-19 occur, even as vaccination efforts increase, ”the authors wrote.
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