A multi-family cluster of seven confirmed coronavirus cases, including three deaths, in Chicago, were linked to one patient who may have infected others at a funeral and birthday party.
The cluster — which likely also included nine more patients who experienced coronavirus symptoms, but were not tested — spread in less three weeks from February into March, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, who on Wednesday released a report on the outbreak.
Those who were affected ranged in age from 5 to 86 years old.
“In this cluster, two family gatherings outside the household likely facilitated the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC said in their report.
“One index patient who attended both events likely triggered a chain of transmission that included 15 other confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and ultimately resulted in three deaths.”
It began when the first patient, described by the CDC as the “index patient,” had dinner with two close friends over the course of three hours the night before a funeral all three attended.
The index patient, who wasn’t identified by gender or age, had recently came back from out of state and “was experiencing mild respiratory symptoms.”
The two friends from dinner, and two more who hugged the “index patient” the next day at the funeral, all eventually developed coronavirus symptoms.
The friends from dinner, whose symptoms arose just days later, tested positive for the coronavirus. Eleven days after the shared meal, one of them was hospitalized and then died 17 days later.
Three days after the funeral, the initial patient attended a three-hour-long birthday party with nine other family members, according to the CDC, with all in close contact.
Within seven days after the party, seven of the partygoers developed coronavirus symptoms. Three of the cases would be confirmed — with two of them dying.
Three other people developed coronavirus symptoms, with one confirmed case, who did not attend the party.
Two of the patients had cared for one of the people who died from the party, while the other sat near three of the birthday party attendees at church.
Most reported person-to-person transmissions of coronavirus have occurred within homes and among health care workers.
The Chicago cluster may indicate the ability of the coronavirus to widely spread beyond close contacts, the report said.
“Together with evidence emerging from around the world, these data shed light on transmission beyond household contacts, including the potential for super-spreading events.
“Overall, these findings highlight the importance of adhering to current social distancing recommendations, including guidance to avoid any gatherings with persons from multiple households and following state or local stay-at-home orders,” the CDC’s report concluded.