“What we learned from this outbreak is that [in] this certain situation, this virus is much more transmissible than we thought possible,” Dr. Howard Liebrand, Skagit County health officer, told KOMO News. The incident involved Skagit Valley Chorale in Mount Vernon, a city located north of Seattle.
Officials said that two choir singers have died of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, while 45 people who attended are showing signs of the virus. Twenty-eight of those have tested positive.
The choir event was held on March 10 at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church.
“We sat within 8 feet of her once a week, for years, and now that chair is empty,” said Jim Owen, the vice president of the choir, as reported by KOMO. “That really brings it home.”
During the time of the practice, there were no bans on large gatherings and no closures in the county. A statement from the choir’s board said that members who felt sick or showed over symptoms should stay at home.
“On the day of the rehearsal, there were no cases of COVID-19 announced in Skagit Valley. There were no closures of schools, restaurants, churches, bowling alleys, banks, libraries, theater, or any other businesses,” the board of directors said later on, GoSkagit reported.
“This virus looks different on everyone,” Carolynn Comstock, the choir’s co-president, told KOMO News. “Some people had a fever, some people didn’t. Some people had a cough, some people didn’t. Some people only had that loss of sense of smell and taste.”
In an interview with Q13 Fox, Comstock said she felt sick and suffered from a fever. She also lost her sense of smell and taste—what some experts say are telltale signs of the virus.
“I felt something different. I felt achy and fatigued as if I was coming down with something, but there was no cough and my temperature was below normal,” said Owen, adding that both he and Comstock are going to help other choir attendees who contracted the virus—once they recover.
“We want to be a part of the solution, whether delivering meals and checking up on people,” said Owen.
In news reports, health officials attempted to explain why so many people were able to contact the CCP virus while attending the choir practice.
“I think singing with a wide-open mouth and projection of your voice can certainly cause droplet spread of the illness. We know that two people face to face in conversation can contaminate each other,” said Dr. Leibrand in the Q13 report.