When Mikayla Bishop began walking down the aisle in October, the bride immediately noticed that even though she had provided masks, almost no one was wearing one.
“I’m walking down the aisle,” she told WLWT this week. “We can’t do anything now.”
Now, more than two weeks later, she said, 32 of the 83 guests at her Cincinnati-area wedding have tested positive for the coronavirus, including three of the couples’ grandparents. Bishop and her husband, Anthony, also contracted the virus, she told the TV station.
Even with the lack of masks and the warnings from experts about the dangers of large indoor gatherings like their wedding, she said the couple was shocked by the fallout.
“I didn’t think that almost half of our wedding guests were gonna get sick,” Bishop said. “You’re in the moment. You’re having fun. You don’t think about covid anymore.”
Nationwide, authorities have pointed to multiple weddings as superspreader events, including an event in Maine in August that’s been tied to almost 200 cases and seven deaths and a Washington wedding attended by more than 300 people earlier this month whereat least 17 guests have tested positive, sparking two separate outbreaks.
A spokesperson with the Cincinnati Health Department told The Washington Post that the department did not immediately have record of the Bishops’ wedding. The state’s department of health and Hamilton County Public Health, the agency in charge of monitoring coronavirus safety and health guidelines where the wedding was held, did not immediately respond to a request for comment as of early Wednesday morning.
Ohio officials are concerned enough about the dangers of weddings and other large gatherings that Gov. Mike DeWine, R, announced on Monday a revised health order limiting mass gatherings in the state. Since March, no gatherings with more than 10 people are allowed in the state, but funerals and weddings are excluded from the 10-people limit. As of Tuesday, wedding receptions, funerals and other events held at banquet facilities are not allowed to have more than 10 people seated per table. Additionally, no dancing will be permitted at these events where attendees should wear their masks at all times except when eating or drinking.
“Despite the health order that limited mass gatherings to 10 people that was signed in April remaining in effect, we have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” DeWine said in a statement. “We have seen great tragedy associated with such events. It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”
Ohio has recently seen an alarming spike in new coronavirus cases. On Oct. 31, when the Bishops were married, the state reported 2,915 new cases. On Tuesday, that figure had more than doubled with 7,079 new reported cases, according to The Washington Post’s coronavirus tracker. At least 5,772 deaths from covid-19 have been reported in the state.
Mikayla and Anthony Bishop, who told WLWT they had dated for about five years before their wedding, said they had originally planned to invite more than 200 guests to their ceremony at an indoor space overlooking a golf course. But as coronavirus cases soared, the couple pared down the list to 85, of whom 83 showed up.
A photo of their wedding posted to the venue’s Facebook page shows a basketful of hand sanitizer bottles for guests beside a container holding disposable white masks. A sign in between read: “Spread Love Not Germs.” But another picture shows that the white-and-gold chairs for guests did not appear to be at least six feet apart, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the couple both quickly noticed that most guests hadn’t picked up masks, they told WLWT they didn’t feel they could change anything at that point.
“When I saw everyone not wearing masks I was just like, ‘Oh, well I guess we’re just gonna kinda go with it I guess,'” Anthony Bishop told the station.
Only the couples’ three grandparents wore masks at all times, except when they were they were eating or drinking, Mikayla Bishop said, and none of them stepped onto the dance floor, where none of the partyers masked up or kept their distance.
Yet all three grandparents later tested positive for the virus, WLWT reported, and two spent time in the emergency room with severe symptoms.
The couple experienced symptoms on their honeymoon in North Carolina, they told the station. Soon, calls began coming in about more and more guests testing positive. The couple told the station they decided to tell their story in hopes of warning others against holding large weddings.
“Every single day we’re getting a call. Oh here’s another person. Here’s another person. Here’s another person,” Mikayla Bishop said. “And it starts to take a toll on you.”