Wedding blamed for Richmond COVID-19 spike

Health Director: 'Residents from across the region all congregated at this wedding'
Posted at 5:54 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 19:03:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Health District contact tracers are working to determine who may have been exposed to COVID-19 during a wedding.

Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Department, and city officials provided the update on COVID-19 during a Thursday afternoon press conference inside City Council Chambers.

He said two notable events contributed to the increase: A Richmond nursing home is experiencing an outbreak with more than 30 COVID-19 cases and the department is investigating an outbreak that that stemmed from a wedding.

“Residents from across the region all congregated at this wedding and there are multiple cases that we continue to work out of that incident," said Avula.

On Friday, Avula wouldn’t elaborate on the location of the wedding or how many guests attended.

Colleen Cook and her staff at CCS Events in Richmond have planned weddings for 18 years. Instantly her business was impacted by the shutdown.

“We lost the second half of March, all of April, all of May and then we started micro-weddings here and there,” she explained.

She estimated that her company would work 10 to 12 events during an average month. Now, she has five scheduled events for the entire month of October.

“50 percent of our clients wanted to keep this year and 50 percent wanted to move,” Cook described. “I was surprised how many people were really very pro- ‘Hey Colleen, as long as we can meet all of these requirements. let’s go ahead and do this this year.’”

Thankfully, no outbreaks can be connected to any of Cook’s weddings since events resumed at the end of July.

“We also have to be mindful that we have to protect also everyone else involved in the wedding, as well. It is a reflection of us,” Cook stated.

Most of her weddings have taken place outdoors to allow for social distancing. Cook said her clients are temperature checking at the door and quarantining prior to the wedding day.

“We are very particular as far as making sure we are adhering to all of the guidelines because it’s a representative of the vendors as well,” she explained. “Nobody wants that liability.”

CBS 6 has also learned that an outbreak occurred at the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center (SBVCC)where thirty residents and nine staff members have tested positive, according to a spokesperson.

Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center is located at McGuire VA Medical Center in South Richmond.

Its 340 staff members currently care for 170 Virginia-based veterans and active-duty military with medical needs.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.