At least 18 people infected with COVID-19 at wedding, small gathering events in Cabarrus County

Updated: Apr. 17, 2020 at 11:55 AM EDT
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KANNAPOLIS N.C. (WBTV) - Health leaders in Cabarrus County are investigating COVID-19 outbreaks at a multiple events held over the past two weeks, including a wedding, Easter gathering and a birthday party.

More than 18 people were infected at the events, health leaders say. There were less than 10 people at each gathering in most cases.

“Less than 10 isn’t some magic number that prevents the spread of the virus,” Erin Shoe, Chief Operating Officer at Cabarrus Health Alliance said. “There’s a reason for the Stay-At-Home Proclamation (put into effect by the County and municipalities on March 26 and revised on March 31), and there are real, consequential effects of not following that order and socializing and interacting in groups outside your family nucleus.”

Health leaders say more people are saying they are having small gatherings because they feel more “comfortable” but many of the people participating in the gatherings are getting sick.

“A wedding. An Easter family gathering. Birthday parties. Cabarrus residents held these gatherings over the past two weeks. And now, the Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) is investigating COVID-19 outbreaks at each event,” CHA said.

Tracing how the people contracted the virus takes some digging - including health leaders asking what each person has done in the days leading up to their onset of symptoms, and gathering information on household members.

“During that phase, investigators try to identify and notify ‘close contacts’ of the positive case, which means anybody within six feet of the subject for more than 10 minutes in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms.,” CHA said.

In the follow up with close contacts, the team makes sure they aren’t developing symptoms and issues quarantine orders to make sure they’re staying home to prevent the spread, said Dr. Elly Steel, another member of the clinical investigation team.

In Cabarrus County, another recent issue involves essential workers going to work sick, health leaders say, which has the potential to cause large outbreaks. Of the positive cases from the four gatherings, six are now out of work, and most of those people are essential workers.

The team has identified 35 close contacts associated with the four recent gatherings and each person is now under a 14-day quarantine. Those who attended the birthday parties will be notified next.

“It’s important for Cabarrus residents to remain vigilant about following all the recommended guidelines,” Shoe said. “And that doesn’t just mean having less than 10 people at a gathering. It means staying home. It means wearing masks in public. It means social distancing regardless of where you are."

Those with questions or concerns can email or call 704-920-1213.

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