A bride and groom in the United States have opened up about the “scary” experience of having their wedding turn into a superspreader event, warning other couples to think twice about getting hitched during a pandemic.
Mikayla and Anthony Bishop were among the 32 people at their wedding who ended up infected with coronavirus, with all three of their grandparents that attended also testing positive.
The newlyweds, from the US state of Ohio, told local station WLWT they had cut their October 31 wedding down from 200 to just 83 guests, also providing masks and hand sanitiser bottles with the slogan “spread love not germs”.
But Mrs Bishop sensed something wasn’t right as she walked down the aisle and noticed a worrying detail.
“My big moment, honestly, was right when the ceremony started and the doors opened and both my parents walked me down the aisle,” she said.
“The first thing I see is I see everyone’s face. And that’s when I realised, wow nobody’s wearing a mask.
“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’,” Mr Bishop added.
They now believe the “turning point” when the wedding becoming a superspreader event was at the reception.
Despite socially distancing guests at their tables, people came into close contact when the music started playing.
“That’s what was maybe the superspreader … the dancefloor,” Mrs Bishop said. “Everyone is in each other’s space and there’s no masks.”
The couple had to cut their honeymoon short after they began receiving phone calls to say their guests had tested positive.
They also began developing symptoms and were diagnosed with COVID-19, with Mr Bishop losing his sense of taste and smell while Mrs Bishop became very ill.
Mrs Bishop said they felt guilty about what had happened, with two of their three grandparents that got coronavirus ending up in the emergency department.
“What’s crazy is that our grandparents were the only ones that wore a mask the whole time. They actually wore their mask except for when they were eating their dinner,” she said.
The couple decided to go public with their story to warn others of the dangers weddings posed.
“Weddings are definitely scary right now. I didn’t think that almost half of our wedding guests were gonna get sick,” Mrs Bishop said.
“You’re in the moment. You’re having fun. You don’t think about COVID anymore.”
‘OBNOXIOUS AND IRRESPONSIBLE’
It’s not the only wedding in the United States that turned into a superspreader event with an October 17 event in New York labelled “obnoxious” after it forced the closure of multiple schools after dozens got infected.
The wedding at Long Island’s North Fork Country Club was attended by 113 guests, more than double the current cap for these types of events, the New York Post reports.
A total of 41 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in connection with the wedding while 159 people had to complete two weeks of isolation.
Multiple schools in the local area have also been forced to close after more than five positive cases were linked to them.
The venue now has to pay more than $ US30,000 ($ A41,250) in fines, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying it had been “obnoxious and irresponsible – not to mention illegal”.
Another wedding held in the US state of Maine resulted in more than 175 coronavirus infections and seven deaths.
The August 7 nuptials saw more than 65 guests attend the reception at Big Moose Inn, exceeding the state’s limit of having just 50 people present at weddings.
Subsequent inspections by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reportedly found tables in the inn were not sufficiently spaced apart and staff not wearing masks.
Local station News Center Maine reported guests at the wedding had not worn masks or socially distanced from each other, despite signage telling them to do so.
Crucially, the inn also did not collect contact tracing information from guests.
Multiple outbreaks in Maine were later connected to the wedding reception, including one at an aged care facility, Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center, where 39 people were infected and six people died of coronavirus.
There was also more than 70 confirmed cases at York County Jail linked to the wedding, with Fox News reporting a staff member there had attended the reception.