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'Superspreader' wedding guests with COVID-19 worked at nursing home. Now, at least 15 people are dead

Guests of a 300-person wedding in Adams County worked at a nursing home in Moses Lake while they were contagious. An outbreak there has left more than a dozen dead.

GRANT COUNTY, Wash. — Coronavirus deaths in Grant County long-term care facilities continue to climb after some staff members who attended a 300-person wedding in Adams County in November tested positive for the virus.

The outbreaks at long-term care facilities have resulted in at least two dozen COVID-19 deaths in Grant County, with others awaiting a death certification confirmation. 

The developing situation has received attention from national media outlets, including The Washington Post, ABC News and Forbes.

Three wedding guests unknowingly worked with COVID-19 while they were contagious at a long-term facility in Moses Lake. Fifteen people have died from coronavirus in an outbreak at the nursing home, though the health district says it is unable to definitively link which cases and deaths are tied to wedding guests. 

One death at a long-term care facility in Ephrata was directly linked to a wedding guest. 

Health officials suspect that staff at another long-term care facility in Moses Lake may have attended the wedding but those who tested positive for COVID-19 did not confirm this information. Eight people have died in an outbreak at the facility. 

Sixty-one COVID-19 cases have been tied to the Nov. 7 wedding as of Thursday, Dec. 10, according to the Grant County Health District. Fifty of those cases are among Grant County residents, along with 11 confirmed cases in two additional Washington counties.  

RELATED: Coronavirus 'super-spreader' wedding near Ritzville linked to 2 outbreaks

Health district investigations have revealed additional probable cases who were symptomatic close contacts on confirmed cases and chose to not be tested. 

Ten new long-term care deaths reported on Thursday

On Thursday, GCHD reported 11 additional COVID-19-related deaths among residents. Ten of those deaths were associated with outbreaks at long-term care facilities first reported on Nov. 20. 

All of the residents at long-term care facilities had underlying conditions putting them at higher risk for severe complications due to a COVID-19 infection, the health district said.

Fifteen people at Lake Ridge Center in Moses Lake have died in the recent COVID-19 outbreak, with three additional deaths pending certificate review, according to GCHD. 

The eight most recent deaths include a woman in her 60s, a man and woman in their 70s, two men in their 80s, a man in his 90s and two women in their 90s.

Eight COVID-19 deaths have also stemmed from an outbreak at Columbia Crest Center in Moses Lake, with three deaths pending certificate review. The two most recent deaths include a man in his 60s and a woman in her 90s. 

A woman from Electric City who was in her 70s also died from COVID-19, but her death was not associated with a long-term care facility, the health district said.

These deaths bring the total in Grant County to 65 since the pandemic began, according to GCHD. 

Outbreaks reported at long-term care facilities after large wedding

The COVID-19 outbreak at Lake Ridge Center in Moses Lake has resulted in infections among 12 staff members and 65 residents and 15 deaths, GCHD said in its press release.

Health officials said staff at Lake Ridge Center care for all residents of a facility, which is why they are unable to directly link cases and deaths to the three staff members who attended the wedding and contracted COVID-19. 

"Cases at Lake Ridge Center were spread out over time with multiple symptom onset and test dates. People can be contagious up to 2 days prior to symptom onset and staff provide care for multiple patients," said GCHD Environmental Health Manager Stephanie Shopbell. 

"The outbreak includes multiple staff and residents so there is no way to directly link an individual staff member to an individual resident case.  We know the outbreak at Lake Ridge did not start prior to the wedding," Shopbell continued. 

One additional death at a long-term care facility in Ephrata was directly linked to a wedding guest who worked there, GCHD said. The name of the facility was not released for privacy reasons.

Coronavirus cases and recent deaths at Columbia Crest Center in Moses Lake also occurred after the Nov. 7 wedding. 

Health officials heard during investigations that some staff at the long-term care facility may have attended the wedding, which might have led to the outbreak. Staff diagnosed with COVID-19 did not self-identify as wedding guests, so the health district said it was unable to conclusively link wedding guests to the outbreak.

Twenty-one staff members and 27 residents have contracted COVID-19 at Columbia Crest and eight people have died. 

MLSD coronavirus cases tied to wedding

The Moses Lake School District also 11 staff members self-identify as attending the wedding, which resulted in one additional known school district staff member being infected, GCHD said.

There were an additional 14 known secondary cases, which include transmission settings of households and social gatherings.

Some long-term care deaths not associated with wedding

Some deaths at long-term care facilities have not been associated with wedding attendance, GCHD said on Thursday. An outbreak at McKay Healthcare was not associated with the wedding and began several weeks before. 

As of Dec. 7, 2020, McKay Healthcare said on its website that it was not managing any active COVID-19 cases. 

Do you have a news tip or personal story to share with KREM 2? Email our investigative team at investigators@krem.com. 

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