CHICAGO (AP) — An indoor event at a bar in rural Illinois triggered 46 cases of COVID-19, the hospitalization of a resident of a long-term care facility, and a school shutdown, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday.
Attendees of the bar opening event in February reported “inconsistent” mask-wearing and lax physical distancing. In the end, those who tested positive for COVID-19 included three bar staff members, 26 patrons, and 17 others who were infected by those who went to the bar. A 650-student school had to shut down because so many people were in quarantine, according to the CDC.
The findings show that “transmission originating in a business such as a bar not only affects the patrons and employees of the bar but can also affect an entire community,” the report said.
For example, one bar patron who reported a runny nose two days after the event had close contact with 26 people during in-person classes and indoor sports practice at school. Within days, two student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19. The school closed for two weeks starting Feb. 18 because 13 school employees were in isolation, quarantine or had a child who was quarantined.
The report didn’t name the establishment or the local health department that investigated the outbreak, but a citation in the report noted that several of the report’s authors work for the Douglas County Health Department. The population of the county in east-central Illinois is under 20,000.
A spokeswoman from the health department based in Tuscola, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) from Chicago, didn’t immediately have comment Monday. Past outbreaks in Tuscola have been linked to large gatherings.