It's Never A Nice Day For A COVID-19 Wedding
A global pandemic provides couples the perfect excuse to elope, but some people still insist on having weddings — big, in-person celebrations that inevitably become superspreader events because the couple's love isn't so special it can defy science.
The latest public health hazard with an open bar was in Adams County, Washington, specifically a rural town called Ritzville. Joe Biden won Washington state overwhelmingly, 58 percent to Donald Trump's piddly-ass 39 percent, but rural Washington is defiantly Trump country. They're not going to let Dr. Anthony Fauci spoil their fun.
More than 300 guests reportedly attended the Ritzville wedding on November 7. That's a lot of people, and 10 times more than permitted under state guidelines. Adams County, which Trump carried with almost 67 percent of the vote, has a population of just under 20,000. There was also a record number of new infections that week, and Adams County was averaging 483 cases per 10,000 residents.
Ten days later, 40 guests from Grant County next door tested positive for COVID-19. Worse, staff at two long-term care facilities in the county who also put on the Ritz later tested positive. They worked while contagious but asymptomatic. It didn't cross their minds to quarantine or at least avoid at-risk people immediately after willingly violating the state's restrictions on large gatherings, especially ones where “The Electric Slide" is played. Officials can't even determine how many people the wedding guests might've infected.
"They care for all residents so it will not be known which cases are tied to the staff," Grant County Health District administrator Theresa Adkinson told ABC News in an email.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 53 people in Grant County, which is double the number reported on November 5, just before the wedding. The health department has linked a shocking 29 deaths to long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and retirement homes.
The health department released the following statement:
Our most vulnerable community members -- elderly, immunocompromised, and those with chronic conditions -- are especially at risk of complications due to a COVID-19 infection and we must continue to take measures to protect them from this disease. The best way to do that is by staying home as much as possible. Your choice to gather with those outside your household could lead to additional cases of COVID-19 and even death. Please protect those you love, by staying home.
It's so very simple, but too many people refuse to listen.
This was but one in a string of recent superspreader weddings. Last month, an Ohio couple's wedding infected 32 of the 83 guests, including the coule.
Even with the lack of masks and the warnings from experts about the dangers of large indoor gatherings like their wedding, [the bride, Mikayla Bishop] said the couple was shocked by the fallout.
"I didn't think that almost half of our wedding guests were gonna get sick," Bishop said. "You're in the moment. You're having fun. You don't think about covid anymore."
A country club in Long Island had its liquor license suspended after it hosted a wedding with 113 guests that produced 34 new COVID-19 infections.
Experts also linked at least 178 COVID-19 cases to an August wedding in rural Millinocket, Maine. There were only 62 guests, but they mingled and danced for hours (my personal nightmare even when the coronavirus isn't involved). Guests had their temperatures taken, which isn't much of a precaution: We repeat, you can spread the virus while otherwise asymptomatic.
At least seven people died and three were hospitalized. None of them attended the wedding and sat through a dull-ass best man speech. They didn't deserve this.
Few guests at the Maine event wore masks or maintained physical distance. In today's Miss Manners column, a distraught reader asks if it was “right" that her niece has a "no masks" policy at her upcoming wedding. This bridezilla even planned to post someone at the door, checking for masks as guests enter the church. Imagine you're the second cousin stuck with “mask bouncer" duty.
It's one thing when guests have their cell phones confiscated and locked away so they can remain “present" and “in the moment" while watching the happy couple exchange tedious vows they wrote themselves, but insisting on a COVID-denial policy is selfish and grotesque. Miss Manners didn't hesitate to confirm that the reader's niece sucks.
Miss Manners hopes that prospective guests will be notified in advance so that they need not dress up, complete with what is now considered a conventional accessory, only to be turned away at the door.
Masks are part of our everyday lives now. Responsible adults should adjust. And the nation can survive a moratorium on big weddings until they're safely boring again and no longer a public health hazard.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."