Ritzville takes hit for large wedding
Over 300 Othello and Moses Lake residents allegedly attended event
Last updated 11/19/2020 at 6:17pm
Ritzville became national news when Grant County Health District Administrator Theresa Adkinson issued a press release headlined "Ritzville Wedding Attendees Asked to Quarnatine and Test for COVID-19."
News sources were soon claiming over 300 people who "attended a Ritzville wedding" may have been exposed to the virus.
Potts said the wedding, attended by residents from Othello and Moses Lake, took place Saturday, Nov. 7, just inside the county line.
"The event was held approximately 20 miles west of Ritzville, right along Rosenoff Road," Potts said. "There is a fairly new airplane hangar there on the north side of the road. It was in that building."
Potts said they orignially thought it was in a potato shed.
She said the Adams County Health Department has not seen any cases of COVID-19 in Ritzville residents from the event, but they have six cases from the Othello and surrounding area associated with the wedding.
"We have seen six lab-confirmed cases so far of people who, through contact tracing, we've been able to link to the wedding," Potts said Thursday, Nov. 19. "Looking at the individuals that we know were in attendance, and the time frame of when they became ill and tested positive, we have linked six people to that event."
Potts said it usually takes four or five days, or longer, from the time of exposure for a test to come back positive.
"The wedding took place on Nov. 7, but we found out about it from Grant County, just shortly before they released their press release," Potts said. "They have so many more cases than we do, and they were working on it and they called us to warn us about what was going on."
Potts said after receiving the Nov. 16 press release from Grant County, Adams County Health Department began doing some research and "found that we had some individuals who were likely linked to that."
"We had eight new cases yesterday, but I think that those were not related to this," Potts said Nov. 19.
Potts said an employee with Adams County Health Department has been trying to trace people, but without a guest list or knowing who was actually in attendance, it's very difficult to find out if there are other individuals who are testing or who are waiting to find out test results.
"Grant County Health District has taken the lead, because they had the initial influx of cases, and also, they believe the individuals who sponsored, or were in charge of the wedding, were from Grant County," Potts said.
Adkinson has not responded to a request from the Journal for clarifying information related to the Grant County Health District's press release.
"I talked to people from KREM and KXLY yesterday. I've had calls from places you wouldn't believe," Potts said. "I was on the phone all day yesterday (Nov. 18). I was still answering calls at 7 p.m. last night."
Ritzville Mayor Gary Cook said he found about the wedding and the news coverage of it when he opened his email to discover a litany of hate mail.
"I think it was an unfortunate choice of words on the Grant County statement," Cook said. "One guy, who didn't have enough guts to tell me who he was, said he saw the Washington Post article this morning at 2 a.m. They're all fighting for ratings; that's what they do. They're scooping it everywhere. It will be on to another story this evening. I just have to sit here and take it, until it goes away."
Potts said free COVID-19 testing done in conjunction with Grant County would continue Friday, Nov. 20.
"It was originally an event that was organized to allow testing for farm workers. A lot of migrant farm workers need to be tested before they're allowed to travel to go home to Mexico or wherever they came from," Potts said. "And there are actually not that terribly many of them left to go back home, and so they left those events in place and said it would be open to the public; that pretty much anybody was welcome to come and be tested. I asked the state, and they said nobody would be turned away."
Free testing is being done from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Othello Church of the Nazarene Friday, Nov. 20.