They doled out hand sanitizer, slashed 115 people off their guest list and encouraged attendees to wear masks to their wedding just outside Cincinnati, Ohio, on Oct. 31.
It wasn’t enough. The newlyweds say they and at least 30 of their 83 guests have since tested positive for COVID-19, all due to what they suspect was a “superspreader” wedding.
Three of their grandparents were among those who tested positive in the days after the wedding. Two of them were taken to hospital with severe symptoms.
“I didn’t think that almost half of our wedding guests were going to get sick,” Mikayla Bishop told local station WLWT in Cincinnati on Tuesday.
“You’re in the moment. You’re having fun. You don’t think about COVID anymore.”
The virus affected 39 per cent of attendees, based on the couple’s reported numbers.
The Bishops shared their story in hopes of encouraging others to take the health crisis more seriously, especially when it comes to planning a wedding during the pandemic.
They say they thought they were going far enough by trimming the guest list and handing out masks and hand sanitizer. Photos from the venue show they had even worked the pandemic into their theme, with labels and signs reading “Spread love, not germs.”
However, Mikayla says she knew there was a problem the moment she started to walk down the aisle, when her maskless friends and family turned around to smile at her.
By that point it was too late, she said.
“I’m walking down the aisle,” she told the outlet. “I can’t do anything now.”
Anthony said he also saw the maskless attendees and thought: “I guess we’re just gonna kinda go with this.”
The couple enjoyed their wedding, then headed to a cabin in North Carolina for their honeymoon.
Both of them developed symptoms at the cabin. They also started getting a steady stream of calls from friends and family who reported testing positive for the virus.
“Every single day we’re getting a call. Oh here’s another person. Here’s another person. Here’s another person,” Mikayla Bishop said. “And it starts to take a toll on you.”
The Bishops say they feel guilty about how things unfolded, and they want others to learn from their mistakes.
Mikayla suspects the biggest issue was the dance floor, where people were moving around and getting close with one another while not wearing masks.
However, she said the couple’s grandparents were wearing masks and socially distancing through much of the event, and they still got the virus.
The outbreak comes amid a second wave that has surged through many U.S. states, including Ohio. The state is preparing to impose a 21-day curfew beginning Thursday, and has restricted private and public gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Those restrictions do not apply to weddings and funerals, which are instead under various social distancing orders.
“We have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We have seen great tragedy associated with such events. It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”
Cases have spiked in Ohio since early October. New daily case counts have surged by 118 per cent over the last two weeks, to more than 7,000 new cases a day, according to tracking data from the New York Times. More than 5,772 people have died in the state to date.
Other states have also struggled to contain outbreaks linked to major gatherings. In Washington, for example, 300 people reportedly broke the rules to attend a wedding that has now been linked to dozens of new cases of the virus.
More than 248,000 people have died of the virus to date in the United States.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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