Residents line up for COVID-19 testing at Pritzker College Prep High School in the Hermosa neighborhood on November 30, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images
A local bar that opened in a rural Illinois county in early February was linked to at least 46 new cases of coronavirus and a school closure that affected 650 children, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The county’s per capita number doubled due to the cash opening, according to the CDC. Before the event, the district had an average of up to 42 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for seven days. The daily case average more than doubled 14 days after it opened, the CDC said.
The case, highlighted in a research report released Monday, provides further evidence of how weddings and gatherings in restaurants and nightclubs have the potential to become widespread events for Covid-19.
After routine case examinations, local health officials identified a group of cases linked to a handful of people at the bar opening, including a participant who had been diagnosed with asymptomatic Covid-19 the day before and who was still walking. There were also four people there that night who had symptoms and who later tested positive for the virus.
“These results show that opening settings such as bars where masking and physical distancing are challenging can increase the risk for community transmission,” the CDC said.
One bar attendee who later tested positive identified 26 close contacts he had while attending school for indoor exercise or personal lessons. Two student athletes also tested positive, causing local officials to shut down the school district after more than a dozen employees were potentially exposed.
Another bar attendee was working at a long-term care facility where an employee and two residents were rated positive days after the event. At least one resident was hospitalized before being released the same day. Nobody was vaccinated.
As of February 26, 12 people in eight different homes who were in contact with people who were at the bar that night tested positive for Covid-19, including five school-age children, according to the study. No one was admitted to the hospital.
“This research further shows that inconsistent mask usage and inadequate physical distancing indoors can increase the risk of transmission,” the CDC wrote. “”[Covid-19] The broadcast that originates from a company like a bar affects not only the customers and employees of the bar, but can also affect an entire community. “
The CDC said there were at least four caveats to the results. First, the interviews were voluntary and many community members did not provide full information, so the number of cases reported in the study is likely to be fewer than the actual number of cases.
It was also likely that not all asymptomatic cases were counted and not all contacts were tested. Information on individual behaviors such as wearing masks and social distancing was not collected from those with positive results. Finally, no samples were available for sequencing the entire genome, which is why it could not be determined whether variant Covid strains were responsible for the increase in transmission.
According to the CDC, a multi-component approach such as enforcing the correct wearing of masks, social distancing, reducing indoor capacity, adequate ventilation and contact tracing should be implemented to prevent the virus from spreading before settings such as bars and restaurants are opened.