April 13, 2021

CDC: Douglas County, Illinois bar event linked to 46 COVID-19 cases, February school closure

The bar opening event included an asymptomatic attendee who had received a positive COVID-19 test the day before

[Update: Douglas County health officials have confirmed the outbreak took place at a bar in Douglas County, which is just south of Champaign.]

A rural Illinois indoor bar’s opening event in February was directly linked to 46 coronavirus cases and a school closure, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday. The CDC did not name the location or county in which this event took place.

As part of the CDC’s weekly morbidity and mortality report, the report found the event was linked to 26 COVID-19 cases in bar patrons and three in staff who attended the opening. Those 26 people then spread the virus on to an additional 17 people who were not at the bar opening.

Event patrons were linked to secondary cases among household, long-term care facility and school contacts, resulting in one hospitalization and one school closure affecting 650 students.

The February event took place at a bar that holds about 100 people.

Four people who were identified as positive cases exhibited COVID-19-like symptoms on the same day they attended the event, according to the report. Secondary cases included 12 cases in eight households with children, two on a school sports team and three in a long-term care facility. Transmission associated with the opening event resulted in the hospitalization of one long-term care facility resident with COVID-19 and one school closure affecting 650 children, which accounts for 9,100 lost in-person days of school.

“These findings demonstrate that opening up settings such as bars, where mask-wearing and physical distancing are challenging, can increase the risk for community transmission,” according to the study.

According to the report, on Feb. 12, local health department staff members through routine testing and contact tracing identified a cluster of cases linked to the bar event, including a case in an asymptomatic attendee who received a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis the day before the event.

Additionally, 86% of the bar event attendees who contracted COVID-19 had symptomatic illness, according to the report.

“Event attendees reported inconsistent mask use and not maintaining [greater than or equal to] 6 ft of physical distance, despite table spacing and signs encouraging physical distancing and mask use,” according to the report.

Only one of the attendees who came down with a case of COVID-19 had received a COVID-19 vaccine. That person had only received one shot, and the event was five days after that first shot.

“One bar attendee with COVID-19 reported the onset of a runny nose 2 days after the event and reported 26 close contacts at school during indoor sports practice and in-person school instruction,” according to the report. “Two student athletes who were close contacts of this person subsequently received COVID-19 diagnoses 8 and 13 days after the event. Local health department officials were notified by a school official that the school district would close for 2 weeks beginning Feb. 18 because 13 staff members were in isolation, in quarantine or absent because their own child was quarantined.”

John Sahly

John Sahly is the digital editor for the Shaw Media Local News Network. He has been with Shaw Media since 2008, previously serving as the Northwest Herald's digital editor, and the Daily Chronicle sports editor and sports reporter.