Year after superspreader event, family has closure

Researchers say a COVID-19 superspreader event in Mount Vernon, Washington in 2020 was a key episode in understanding transmission of the virus. A year later, the family of one of the people at the event who died from the virus finds closure. (April 9)

Video Transcript

- Two weeks before Washington State's stay-at-home order was issued, the Skagit Valley Chorale rehearsed for more than two hours at a local church.

LEA HAMNER: It was immediately evident we had a really big problem.

- 53 people were infected, two people died. The virus could have--

BONNIE DAWSON: She sang alto in the Skagit Valley Chorale, and she loved every single minute of it. We went to all of her concerts, she always made sure we had tickets. It was a very hard emotional time to have to, you know, yell, "I love you, mom," as she's being wheeled out the door, with men standing in our yard 10 feet out because they didn't want to be near our house.

- Whoo! Go, Grandma!

BONNIE DAWSON: Actually, our mom died on her 81st birthday. It's been tough, mostly because we didn't really get a good goodbye.

LEA HAMNER: There was a lot of resistance to calling it an airborne disease. We found this middle ground of this disease, that can both be droplet and airborne. That was a big shift, obviously. After the paper, the CDC started to acknowledge airborne transmission, and the WHO was pressured by scientists who cited our paper to acknowledge airborne transmission.

BENEDETTA ALLEGRANZI: We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field as--

- She would be very, very, very, very honored that a year later, we get to put this together for her.

- The family wanted today to be more of a memorial service.

- I'm pretty sure your prayers have saved my life a time or two.

- She just loved her family.

- We finally got to give our mom what she deserved, and that was a celebration of her life. And people had the ability to talk about her and what she meant to them.

LEA HAMNER: I do think that understanding how the disease is transmitted leads to lives saved.

BONNIE DAWSON: Somebody has to be the person that we learn from, and this so happens that our mom was involved in the group that was part of that.

- I think that my mom would be willing to give up her life in order to save lives.

- Happy birthday, Mom.

- (SINGING) Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Grandma Carole.