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CDC report on superspreader wedding shows how small events can carry big impacts

It's a reminder healthcare professionals are urging people to keep in mind as they head home for the holidays.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is showing how one small gathering can turn into a superspreader event.

In a report, it published Friday, the CDC dissected how a wedding attended by 55 people in rural Maine left seven dead due to one COVID-19 positive person in attendance.

That one person ultimately helped spread the virus to 176 other people. From there, it is believed that the COVID-19 cases were spread to a long-term care facility and a correctional facility. 

The CDC also found that guests at the wedding were inside, did not wear masks, and did not social distance.

Health care professionals like Jay Wolfson of USF Health say this shows how small events can turn into big problems, “We do know that it just takes one positive person in a group at a wedding, or at Thanksgiving dinner, to cause a forest fire.”

Public health experts are urging people to avoid multi-generational Thanksgiving celebrations as cases soar.

“What we're suggesting now is that if you really don't have to travel, try to avoid it," Wolfson said.

But with COVID fatigue and a year where love and family are needed more than ever, professionals know that some may go against what's best for the community as a whole. 

“If you absolutely are going to go and we can't change your mind, get tested a few days before you go. Make sure that you're clean," Wolfson said.

If you are celebrating in Florida, Wolfson says to use the weather in your favor. “Have your Thanksgiving dinner on the back porch, make sure that there's plenty of space between you or have it in the backyard.”

Because as shown by the Maine wedding, even small events can quickly escalate into large, and deadly, COVID-19 spreads.

“By not traveling, by not enjoying the company of our family and friends this year, or we can take the risk of spreading it even more. It's really up to us because only we individually can prevent COVID," Wolfson said.

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