NORTHBROOK, Illinois (CBS) – In an unregistered Northbrook hotel, an ordinary wedding reception is called a potential “super-dissemination event” by county health officials and the hotel may face civilian citations.
As reported by CBS 2 staff member Charlie De Mar, the Cook County Department of Public Health said the wedding was life-threatening.
Hundreds of people crowded into the hotel’s ballroom on Wednesday and toasted the newlyweds. It was a story that CBS 2 aired exclusively on Wednesday night and was seen by county public health officials: The bride entered a room full of hundreds on a special day. All eyes were fixed on him, and no mask was hidden from the smile. At Hilton Chicago / Northbrook, CBS 2 saw no social distance at the wedding – and groups of people walked without masks. Only a frugal number of people covered it.
“It’s a deep shock,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, chief physician of the Cook County Department of Public Health. “This event should not have happened. He endangered a lot of people.
Rubin spoke after looking at the story of CBS 2, which showed that the wedding had obviously broken COVID-19’s mitigation efforts.
“They violated the indoor eating order,” Rubin said. “They also violated a state ordinance or state order regarding the restriction of major events.”
Both wedding guests and staff need to be quarantined and the county is already preparing for positive COVID-19 cases.
“We’re going to ask for a guest list, and assuming we get that, we’ll try to reach as many individuals as possible,” Rubin said. “I see this as a potential scattering event.”
In a statement, Chief Physician of the Rubin and Cook County Public Health Department and Co-Chief Dr. Kiran Joshi stated that “they are considering a reference to the hotel and are exploring our legal options today”.
“We need to focus on the people who were there for the wedding, but it’s also important for the hotel to know that they can thoroughly clean these rooms,” Rubin said.
The Cook County Health Department calls the wedding a potential super-dissemination event.
Civil citations are likely.
The health department asked for a guest list of those present to look for possible contact.
– Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) December 3, 2020
It was estimated that there were 200-300 guests on Wednesday night, despite the state ending all private parties and ball gatherings.
The photos handed over to CBS 2 show a crowded cocktail hour – where friends and family hugged and appetizers licked their fingers.
Thursday night, De Mar heard from a band member performing at the wedding. The band member said he felt completely defenseless around a group of unmasked people and is now worried about being exposed.
“I thought it was the craziest environment I’ve been in since the epidemic,” Jeff Yang said.
Yang, a freelance violinist, performed at the wedding and made sure that COVID-19’s security measures were put in place.
“We had plexiglass that separated us and the guests, and when we got there, basically nothing,” he said.
As for whether the guests wore masks, Yang said, “Very few – some of the kids do, but very few people.”
Our exclusive wedding video supports this – there is no mask for hugs and laughter. People were also seen eating inside, despite states banning indoor eating.
“It was absolutely shocking that at this point, there are so many deaths in the U.S. and Illinois that no one seems worried,” Yang said.
But Mar asked Yang why he thought it was important to say something.
“Just for one of my fellow human beings – I feel bad for married people,” Yang said. – We just have to be careful, because it’s not a joke.
The Hilton in Northbrook is self-contained. The management of the hotel was named in a 2017 exclusion case.
Holly Allgauer-Cir, CEO of Hilton Chicago / Northbrook, issued the following statement late Thursday afternoon, changing the headcount to 150 instead of the 200-300 we observed based on the number of natives and information.
“Last night, the Hilton Chicago / Northbrook hosted a family wedding attended by about 150 people. While the event was booked prior to the implementation of the state’s most recent mitigation measures, we sincerely regret that we have allowed this gathering to continue and our family apologizes to our guests, employees, and the Chicago community.
“The coronavirus epidemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the hospitality industry and family businesses. However, our hopes for the survival of the hotel and the hope of the employees cannot exceed the health and safety.
“We are committed to working with state and local health authorities to ensure that our hotel complies with all safety measures and mitigation policies. We immediately reviewed our bookings to make sure that business activities that are inconsistent with state policies are not held on this property and are committed to adhering to the contact monitoring and testing protocols recommended by health officials.
“It will take time, but we hope to restore the trust we have had in our guests, staff and community for so many years.”
A Hilton corporate spokesman said on Thursday: “The safety and well-being of our guests and team members has always been and remains a top priority. We were shocked to learn that one of our independently owned and operated hotels hosted an event that disregarded both local regulations and Hilton branding regulations. We immediately contacted the hotel owner to understand the facts and now we are dealing directly with our expectations. “
Governor JB Pritzker said he was “deeply concerned about the people who attended the wedding”.
“I understand that people were very close to each other. I understand that these people go home or return to their communities and may actually have infected other people. And it really concerns us all. The moment COVID-19 is rampant throughout Illinois, the community is prevalent, there are people who are now able to concentrate to spread it everywhere they return, ”he said.
The governor said he hopes everyone who attended the wedding will now isolate himself and examine COVID-19.
Pritzker said he was in contact with the Cook County Department of Public Health to ensure the case was followed up.
“It is very irresponsible, and it is also irresponsible for the hotel to hold such an event. They have also broken the rules and they need to be held accountable, ”he said.
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