Why you should avoid going to weddings during the pandemic

Many are putting their weddings off due to the coronavirus pandemic, but others don't want to wait, so they're hosting their weddings on a live video service like Zoom. Some people are going forward with their weddings in person, and if you've received an invitation to such a wedding, you have a choice to make. Is it safe for you to attend a wedding in person?

It's not safe for most people to be attending a wedding in the United States unless it's tiny, Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease physician, told TODAY. There is just too much viral activity going on right now, Dr. Swartzberg warns.

According to the CDC, there have been 13,447,627 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, including 267,302 deaths. Those numbers continue to rise and don't include people who were not tested or did not know they had COVID-19. Many people are asymptomatic or never show symptoms but can still spread the virus to others.  

Risks of attending an in-person wedding during the coronavirus pandemic

Why is attending an in-person wedding risky? The CDC explains that coronavirus spreads from person to person through tiny droplets produced by an infected person when they breathe, talk, sing, cough, or sneeze. These infected droplets can also land on surfaces and be transferred to you by touch, such as if you touch a surface with droplets on it and then touch your face, particularly your eyes, nose, or mouth. The CDC reports growing evidence that infected airborne particles and droplets can remain in the air and be breathed in by others. This is incredibly risky in indoor environments with no good ventilation.

The lowest risk activities include virtual-only activities or events, which is the best choice for a wedding, so no one risks getting exposed to the virus. Everyone should be staying home unless it's necessary to go out, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy. Even then, you'll need to wear a mask and wash or sanitize your hands often. It is perfectly okay for you to decline to attend a wedding in person right now because it's a risk to your health and the health of everyone there.  

What happened at weddings that were held during the pandemic?

On August 7, 2020, a Maine couple held an in-person wedding at Tri Town Baptist Church and the reception at Big Moose Inn in the northern part of the state. There were 62 guests, and not many wore masks or practiced social distancing, but guests did have their temperatures taken. The state health inspector has been investigating this incident, and the case is still open because there were too many people at the wedding and the reception (via Healthline). 

More than 170 people have tested positive for COVID-19, all linked to the Maine wedding. At least seven people have died as a result, and none of them attended the wedding. 

Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine CDC, explained to Healthline that it spread rapidly. A guest of the wedding infected their parent who infected another one of their children. That child infected five people at Maplecrest Rehab, where they worked, and all of this happened within two and a half weeks of the wedding. Someone who worked at York County Jail attended the wedding, and they infected 54 inmates and staff there (via Press Herald). With the outbreak continuing to spread, the consequences of one wedding were dire.

You have to ask yourself if it's worth attending a wedding in person right now. It's clearly incredibly risky for everyone's health, even people who aren't going to the wedding.