With few people wearing masks, the reception turned into a superspreader.

By Claire Gillespie
November 18, 2020
Advertisement

Many engaged couples have made the difficult decision to postpone their wedding plans until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. But others have chosen to go ahead with their nuptials, and in some cases the consequences have been serious.

Anthony and Mikayla Bishop wed in Blue Ash, Ohio, on October 31, in a ceremony joined by 83 guests. Two weeks after the ceremony, almost half of the guests had become infected with COVID-19—including three of their elderly grandparents, two of whom visited the emergency room with severe symptoms of the disease. The newlyweds also ended up testing positive for the virus.

In an interview with local TV station WLWT, the couple said they took precautions to try to keep their guests safe, such as spacing out tables at the reception and providing bottles of hand sanitizer. They also cut their guest list, which originally had 200 names on it, to ensure the venue was less crowded. But it quickly became clear that it wasn't enough. When Mikayla walked down the aisle with both her parents, she realized that most of her guests weren't wearing face masks.

"The first thing I see is everyone's face," she told WLWT. "And that's when I realized wow. Nobody's wearing a mask." At that point, Anthony decided there was little they could do. "When I saw everyone not wearing masks I was just like, 'Oh, well I guess we're just gonna kinda go with it I guess," he said in the TV interview.

Understandably, the bride and groom wanted to forget about COVID-19—just for a day. "I didn't think that almost half of our wedding guests were gonna get sick," Mikayla said.

It was when they were on their honeymoon in North Carolina that the couple started finding out their guests had tested positive for the coronavirus. "Every single day we're getting a call," Mikayla revealed. "Oh here's another person. Here's another person. Here's another person. And it starts to take a toll on you." They cut the honeymoon short as a result.

The couple only experienced mild symptoms when they themselves came down with the disease, which made them feel guilty because many of their guests were seriously ill. In total, 32 people who were at the wedding later tested positive for the coronavirus.

With no guests wearing masks, the crowded dance floor at the reception was likely to blame for much of the spread. "Everybody's in each other's face and there's no masks," Mikayla said. Still, the couple told WLWT that none of the three grandparents who became sick went to the dance floor or the bar area. All three were wearing masks, and they only removed their masks to eat at their table.

Ohio had 312,443 reported COVID-19 cases as of November 18, and 5,772 deaths from the disease, reported The New York Times. In the previous week, there had been an average of 7,280 new cases per day, an increase of 118% from the average two weeks earlier.

This week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a 21-day state-wide curfew, from 10 pm to 5 am, commencing Thursday November 19. "We believe this will help reduce #COVID19 spread," DeWine wrote on Twitter. "I'm also asking each Ohioan every day to do at least one thing that reduces your contact with others."

DeWine continued: "Each one of us will make a difference. If we can cut down contacts by 20-25 percent, this will make a difference. Paired with mask-wearing, this will go a long way from stopping our hospitals from being overrun."

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter