MAHOMET — The “unofficial prom” held at a private home in Mahomet earlier this month has been linked to COVID-19 cases at seven local area businesses, according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.
So far, there have been 16 known cases linked to people who were either at the prom event or were in contact with someone who was, said health district Administrator Julie Pryde.
An outbreak — two or more cases — has been declared at one of the impacted businesses, Pryde said.
She declined to identify the businesses, but said they’re not all in Mahomet.
One has already been identified as the Jimmy John’s in Mahomet.
Some of the affected businesses are employers of either the teens going to the prom or their parents, she said.
“The scary thing for us, is it was around Father’s Day, so we know there was a lot of visiting going on that shouldn’t have been going on anyway,” Pryde said Monday before the county case total grew by nine, to 854.
Pryde said the health district has had a lot of calls from people who have been angry about the event, which wasn’t sponsored by or sanctioned by the Mahomet-Seymour school district.
Many people are outraged because they have been trying hard to tamp down the spread of infections, she said.
“In Champaign-Urbana especially, people are really trying,” she said.
Big events such as these just start outbreaks, Pryde said.
It didn’t help that those attending the Mahomet event were asked to sign liability waivers, because that didn’t prevent people who attended from carrying infections into the community, she said.
“To have somebody sign a waiver is ridiculous. That would be great if people just went and quarantined themselves for 14 days,” she said.
Some people have asked the health district to sue the family that hosted the prom, Pryde said, and in reality that’s unlikely to happen.
If this was an ongoing event, for example, one lasting all weekend, the health district could have gotten it shut down, Pryde said.
“Because it was a one-time event, and a secretive one, there was no opportunity,” she said.
What the health district is striving for is long-term compliance, Pryde said.
Infections and outbreaks will continue as long as people congregate indoors without wearing masks and without staying six feet away from other people, she said.
“There is no safe way to be in a building without distancing and wearing masks,” she said.