A super-spreader believed to be at the center of Chicago's coronavirus outbreak shows the importance of social distancing

Chicago bean coronavirus

  • A case study in Chicago demonstrated the importance of social distancing in containing the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The investigation, which was published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Chicago Department of Health, traced the cases from the first infected individual, identified as Patient A1.1, after they attended a funeral and birthday party.
  • The coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19, spread to at least 16 other people and killed three in the super-spreading event.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A super-spreading event in Chicago, Illinois, is emphasizing the importance of social distancing in containing the spread of the coronavirus, experts say.

A case study published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Health illustrated the chain reaction of the coronavirus spread by investigating the super-spreader, identified as Patient A1.1.Advertisement

The investigation, which spans 28 days, traced the subsequent cases from Patient A1.1, who had recently traveled out-of-state, as the virus spread to at least 16 other people and three died after attending a funeral and birthday party. The ages of those who contracted the virus ranged from 5 to 86, and the three deceased were all older than 60, according to the CDC report.

In February, Patient A1.1, who was experiencing mild symptoms at the time, went to a potluck dinner with two other people the evening before the aforementioned funeral, the deceased being a close family friend who died from non-coronavirus-related circumstances. The meal, which lasted three hours, also involved common serving dishes.

The next day, Patient A1.1 attended the funeral, offering condolences and hugging friends and family. Within a week of the event, both hosts of the dinner and one funeral attendee tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19.
Advertisement

The condition of one dinner host deteriorated enough to warrant hospitalization, when a family member visited without wearing any personal protective equipment. The family member later began to develop coronavirus symptoms, and the dinner host eventually died.

coronavirus driving roads chicago

Patient A1.1 infected at least seven people at a birthday party, two of whom died of the coronavirus

Meanwhile, Patient A1.1, who was still experiencing symptoms, attended a birthday party with nine people, which lasted about three hours. Seven attendees later were diagnosed with COVID-19.Advertisement

One attendee who tested positive was eventually hospitalized and spread the virus to two other people who visited them in the hospital - and one visitor, in turn, infected another likely due to household contact. The party attendee later died of COVID-19.

Three symptomatic party attendees attended a 90-minute church service, infecting at least one person seated one pew in front of them. The incident of the infected church-goer came as Illinois banned gatherings of 50 or more people, more than two weeks since Patient A1.1 had infected the two dinner hosts.

Four days after the gatherings ban, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a state-wide stay-at-home order.Advertisement

"Media reports suggest the chain of transmission described in Chicago is not unique within the United States," the report stated. "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."

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you'd like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email covidtips@businessinsider.com and tell us your story.

And get the latest coronavirus analysis and research from Business Insider Intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting businesses.

Advertisement

{{}}