A regional choir met for practice on March 10, now 45 have either been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are sick with symptoms, three have been admitted to hospitals, and two have died.
The Skagit Valley Chorale met at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon, WA for their weekly choir practice, but took extra precautions that day because of the threat posed by the coronavirus. There was hand sanitizer at the door, they didn’t hug, and spread out for practice, Yahoo News reports.
The choir’s conductor, Adam Burdick, told the choir’s 121 members in an email that they would continue on with practice on the 10th. Even though many were concerned about the virus, Skagit County had no reported cases of COVID-19 and no restrictions on gatherings were in place. 60 members showed up for the practice.
Everyone reported that the choir members were cautious. They avoided physical contact. Eight people told the Los Angeles Times that no one appeared to be sick, nor was anyone coughing or sneezing. This has led experts to say the outbreak in the choir may support what some experts have been saying recently–that the virus can be transmitted through the air. In particular, this could happen in a situation through particles that are dispersed from “the forceful breathing action of singing.”
While many have blamed the choir for hosting a rehearsal with the threat of the virus beginning to spread, many have pointed out that we didn’t know on March 10th what we now know at the end of March. Even though Skagit County reported its first case on March 10th, the Skagit Valley Chorale Board of Directors did not know about the positive test when they held the rehearsal. Also, according to a statement released by the board, “There were no closures of schools, restaurants, churches, bowling alleys, banks, libraries, theaters, or any other businesses.”
Choir Director Adam Burdick said the group coming under a national microscope has been difficult, especially as they mourn the death of two choir members and friends. He said, “We are getting a flood of national media attention right now. We’re dealing also with people who are responding in a pretty unpleasant way, saying that we should have known better and that we’re at fault, which is hard to deal with.”
Thankfully some members have started to recover. 77-year-old Cynthia Richardson recovered from the virus at home after receiving news of a positive test on March 19th. She said, “I was lucky to have a mild case.” Even though she feels better, she is not taking any risks by getting out of the house. “I’m no longer contagious, but I’m staying home – one, because the governor ordered us to; and to, why go out and take the risk of spreading it around.”
Carolyn Comstock and her husband Jim Owen were in attendance and showed some symptoms, but were never tested. They said the outbreak among the choir members was a wake-up call. Comstock told The Los Angeles Times that, “It’s just normal people doing things that they love to do, and all of a sudden some people are dead. It’s very sobering.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
Photo courtesy: Pixabay/Delphin Media