Illinois Bar Opening Leads to COVID-19 Community Outbreak

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A February event at a rural Illinois bar has led to an outbreak of 46 COVID-19 cases — a testament to how easily and quickly the virus can spread, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said at a press briefing Monday.

“As we work to get more people vaccinated and as community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the vast impact of a single event affecting communities, schools, families and fragile elderly,” Walensky said. “And it emphasizes the impressive transmissibility of this virus and the continued need for layered prevention strategies.”

The event — an opening at an unnamed bar that can accommodate 100 people — led to several cases, along with the closure of a 650-child school, according to a CDC report detailing the incident.

Among the infected were 26 patrons, three staff members, 12 household contacts and 17 secondary cases among those not in attendance. Three people who attended were associated with long-term care facilities, and one resident had to be hospitalized after contacting COVID-19.

“People who attended the event reported that mask use was inconsistent and that six feet of distance was not maintained,” Walensky said.

Walensky also reported an increase in COVID-19 cases among young adults ages 18-24 — the result, she said, of sports and other extracurricular activities.

According to CDC guidance, these activities should be limited to prevent clusters. 

During the briefing, top COVID-19 expert Anthony Fauci, MD, outlined recent findings on coronavirus-related complications among pregnant women.

A meta-analysis by the Canadian Medical Association Journal compiled 42 studies involving almost 450 thousand pregnant and found adverse events such as still birth, preeclampsia and pre-term birth significant in the presence of COVID-19 infection.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages pregnant women to get vaccinated after receiving clearance from their doctors. The adenovirus vaccine platform used in the Johnson & Johnson shot has been used in pregnant and nursing populations before with no adverse effects, Fauci said, and observational data for the two-shot messenger RNA vaccines looks promising.

“Those safety signals have been observed thus far,” Fauci said.

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