Community Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Associated With a Local Bar Opening Event

Illinois, February 2021

Samira Sami, DrPH; Caitlin R. Turbyfill, MPH; Shelby Daniel-Wayman, MPH; Stacy Shonkwiler, MSN; Kiva A. Fisher, PhD; Macey Kuhring; Aaron M. Patrick; Stephanie Hinton, MHS, MA; Amanda S. Minor, MPH; Jessica N. Ricaldi, MD, PhD; Ngozi Ezike, MD; Judy Kauerauf, MPH; Wayne A. Duffus, MD, PhD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70(14):528-532. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


During February 2021, an opening event was held indoors at a rural Illinois bar that accommodates approximately 100 persons. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and local health department staff members investigated a COVID-19 outbreak associated with this opening event. Overall, 46 COVID-19 cases were linked to the event, including cases in 26 patrons and three staff members who attended the opening event and 17 secondary cases. Four persons with cases had COVID-19–like symptoms on the same day they attended the event. Secondary cases included 12 cases in eight households with children, two on a school sports team, and three in a long-term care facility (LTCF). Transmission associated with the opening event resulted in one school closure affecting 650 children (9,100 lost person-days of school) and hospitalization of one LTCF resident with COVID-19. 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 of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As community businesses begin to reopen, a multicomponent approach should be emphasized in settings such as bars to prevent transmission*.[1] This includes enforcing consistent and correct mask use, maintaining ≥6 ft of physical distance between persons, reducing indoor bar occupancy, prioritizing outdoor seating, improving building ventilation, and promoting behaviors such as staying at home when ill, as well as implementing contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine when COVID-19 cases are diagnosed.