Home > Uncategorized > Wedding COVID 19 outbreak, Millinocket, ME

Wedding COVID 19 outbreak, Millinocket, ME

In 1970, I graduated from nursing school.  Before our graduation, my best friend and room mate all through school had asked me to be her Maid of Honor.  I was so excited to do it.  So, we packed up our stuff and went home to Millinocket, Maine to prepare for her big special event.  I had also been hired to work as a nurse at the Millinocket Regional Hospital, my first nursing job.  I got sick the day before the wedding.  My throat was killing me.  I had a fever.  I was a mess.  But, I made a promise to my friend and I kept it.  I walked down the aisle ahead of her.  She was a gorgeous happy bride.  I dragged my sorry butt through the reception after.  I hugged and kissed people.I hope nobody got sick because of me.  I had Strep throat.

The day after the wedding I had to travel to Augusta, Maine and stay 2 days to sit for my RN nursing license boards.  I stayed alone (thank goodness) and I sucked down aspirin the whole time.  The next two days, I filled my pockets with tissues, took my aspirin, and sat in a roomful of other new graduates and started my 2 day long test.

When I finished my second day of testing, I drove home to Millinocket and went to bed for a few days and got antibiotics.  How many people did I expose to my Strep throat? How many got sick. I’ll never know.  I was a dumb kid, and nursing school never discouraged us from showing up for classes if we were sick.  In later years my places of employment were irritated if I missed work because I was sick, so I showed up. So I went to places like my friends wedding and my testing site with my germs and exposed a couple hundred people.

So, when I read about the COVID19 outbreak in Millinocket after a wedding with 65 guests, I paused.  How could I be ticked off at this bunch of folks when I did the same thing as a younger woman..a nurse no less.  Well, let’s see.   COVID19 is different from Strep or the flu or a cold.  It is much more deadly and contagious. There is no cure or vaccination.  170,000 Americans have died because of it since March.   I’m not excusing my irresponsibility , but honestly?  We have all had this kind of information fed to us daily for months!   Maine has been one of the best 2 States for preventing the spread of COVID.    There is a reason for that.  Our Governor Mills has taken it very seriously from the beginning.  She has met resistance,hatred, threats and lawsuits the entire time.  But, she has followed science and made recommendations and mandates based on science.  Her compadre Dr Nirav Shah is one of the smartest, kindest, most diplomatic infectious disease experts I have known.  He is the Director of the Maine CDC.

Articles in the Bangor Daily News have revealed that 65 guests were at the event.  It was held in East Millinocket at the Tri Town Baptist Church.

church  The reception party moved to a gorgeous venue at Millinocket Lake called the Big Moose Inn. My guess is that they had a wonderful time and the photos are gorgeous.  I congratulate the Bride and Groom and family.bigmooseinn

But someone was irresponsible. Maine mandates that any commercial events held inside must accomodate 50 people or fewer.  Guests must be distanced and wear masks unless eating.  Outside events can be up to 100 people, with similar rules.  It seems that somebody fudged on the rules.  These events take special planning now…and rules are shared and should be enforced.  Who was responsible for this scary mess…the family?  the happy couple?  the venue?  WHO?

The COVID 19 virus rode into that wedding in a human body, either a guest or a worker, where most likely rules for prevention were broken. According to the latest CDC report, one person became sick the day after the wedding.  He/she was likely the source, and was probably asymptomatic on the day of the event.  Covid then hitched a ride in another person, and another and another until most of the party was exposed, and 32 people tested positive.  That 32 people went in multiple directions after the wedding.  Then the COVID spread itself into 32 homes (assuming none of the positive victims were couples) and into 32 or so workplaces, and a multitude of businesses and offices, ball games, parties etc. At the end of this blog there is a letter from Millinocket Regional Hospital CEO, Dr Robert Peterson dated August 20, 2020.  So far I know of 3 close communities affected and possibly a more remote one.


3oo people tested, 190 tests pending, 32 people tested positive and 1 so far, has been admitted to the hospital.  The median age of the victims is 42, and 87% of them are symptomatic.  This will change.  4 days after the event, several more people became ill.  That is a common number of days from contact to sickness (incubation period), but it may go up to 14 days.   The State of Maine has issued a imminent health hazard citation for Big Moose Inn.

Wow. This is what rule breaking can get you. Now this business’s future relies on them following the rules. This has made tons of people sick and interrupted the lives of thousands of community members, businesses, churches, town offices/services, and hospital and medical services.  The impact is on public health and economic health.

This Millinocket outbreak was preventable.  We have all been warned about COVID19.  We have been constantly and doggedly educated about how to stop the spread.  Everything was shut down to stop the spread back in March and April and then later we were given guidance on how to re open safely.  Anyone who follows the news on TV, in the newspaper, or on social media knows about all of this..about the risks and the lives lost.  They also know what the recommendations are to stop the spread. Little kids get this.

Individuals have been asked to do simple things to protect ourselves and others.

1. Socially distance when outside your home and wear a mask.

2. Wash your hands frequently

3. Stay home if you are sick.

Special more complicated guidance is given for places of business, schools and such.

We are warned and taught these things at our workplaces, in our schools, at our doctors offices and hospitals.  It is pretty hard to escape a good solid education about the prevention of COVID.

For the average individual citizen,this is not rocket science.  It is all pretty simple stuff.  Even as a new RN in 1970, I didn’t have this kind of guidance.   I have never seen illness like this, all around us, in every corner of the State, Country and World.  COVID spreads like wildfire and it can be deadly, especially for vulnerable people like the elderly, disabled, and chronically compromised.

People have chosen to defy and deny these simple instructions for prevention.  In fact there are groups who actively do sketchy things to avoid the rules, and the result is more COVID infections.    Here is a Facebook post from a woman who wanted to help new brides to have safe weddings…and this is what she found.

“I have a good friend who’s a florist who joined a Covid Brides group thinking she could help people. She said that what she learned was horrible. Most of the brides were exchanging ideas of how to lie to venues, get false test papers for out-of-state guests, appear to be following guidelines while not, etc. and demonstrated horrible disregard for the venues, vendors, communities and guests. They included “cheat sheets”  and also black-balled businesses and vendors who wouldn’t comply with demands and worked together to bomb those businesses’social media with negative reviews. She left the group.”

Other examples of this kind of behavior are displayed in videos of customers fighting with retailers for enforcing mask rules, and others coughing or spitting on them.  This is not only sickening, it is assault.  And it is incredibly stupid.

I am sick over my hometown’s suffering because of irresponsible rule breakers and defiance of science.  The rules are to protect ALL of us.  COVID doesn’t care who you vote for, what color you are, what church you go to, how smart or dumb you are….it will infect you if you are careless.  If you are infected and you defy the rules around others, you WILL infect someone else.

If you care about staying COVID free yourself, follow the recommendations.  If you care about others, do the same.  It is the only way we will put an end to this nightmare.

hospital letter











One victim from this COVID outbreak has died.  Here is today’s notice from Millinocket Regional Hospital.  mrh2









Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. Lori Nerbonne
    August 20th, 2020 at 20:59 | #1

    Kathy, I appreciate your honesty around some of the decisions we make when we are young and want something so bad or don’t want to let others down. We all can all learn from others’ stories, experiences and mistakes. Thank you for helping us all do just that. I hope your hometown heals soon, and there are no lives lost.

  2. steve yenco
    August 20th, 2020 at 21:25 | #2

    Very well written. Thank You

  3. Kathy Strout
    August 20th, 2020 at 22:08 | #3

    So well said, Kathy. Your insights are invaluable.

  4. Bruce Leavitt
    August 20th, 2020 at 22:28 | #4

    It was all unfortunate, one problem is they do not separate Millinocket and East Millinocket though they do Medway. Apparently 5 or 6 were from Somerset County also which can make things more confusing. Was it possible the person knew? Unfortunately now every one else is paying. I have only worn a mask in the Doctors office or Hosp. We will not get into Mills, or the Legislature not being called back. I am not overly impressed with the head of the CDC and somethings, nor Biden talking about a National Mandate. When you live in a rural community you can walk for miles and not see a person. Yes, you can take precautions, but when people who knowingly have it go to these events with Covid it can be stupid. Some say not wearing a mask is the same, that is my right even though I am high risk. We were in a similar situation with a funeral and fortunately no one got sick. The same with Morgan’s beach that was shut down, the person apparently knew they had covid and went anyways.

  5. Maureen Gildea
    August 21st, 2020 at 06:52 | #5

    Thank you for taking the time to write and share this. It seems today that not many people truly care. You are a breath of fresh air. Keep up the good work!

    August 21st, 2020 at 08:03 | #6

    A powerful article. Life is a learning curve for all of us but not every life lesson has potentially lethal consequences. This couple, along with their families and friends, are suffering the consequences of their choices. So are their communities. If their choices were based on misinformation and disinformation about coronavirus, will those who spread the misinformation and disinformation also suffer any consequences? ?

  7. Mary McCleary
    August 21st, 2020 at 09:03 | #7

    Kathy, thank you for writing this article. Great information!

  1. No trackbacks yet.