Conflicting COVID test results forces Omaha couple to cancel their dream wedding | Local News

The bottom line: A negative test isn’t a free pass. Self-monitoring still is advised, O’Keefe said.

“In an ideal, non-pandemic world, tests should always be directed and interpreted by a trained clinician,” O’Keefe said. “While open access to testing is needed in this pandemic, it has shown us the difficulties in helping people understand the complexities of laboratory tests.”

As of Friday, Alex still reported no symptoms of COVID. Lauren, a private tutor, has tested twice in the past week, and both results came back negative. It’s a relief, she said, because her mother has just started breast cancer treatment.



Dr. Anne O'Keefe

Dr. Anne O’Keefe


O’Keefe’s advice to engaged couples: Sit tight on setting a wedding date for 2021. One person with COVID could turn a wedding into a super-spreader event. “It’s not worth the risk.”

Earlier this month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on a large outbreak tied to a 55-person wedding reception in rural Maine. The outbreak was linked to 177 COVID-19 cases, including seven hospitalizations and seven deaths.

For couples who feel they can’t delay their nuptials for a few months, O’Keefe recommends having a small ceremony in the short term and a big reception after the pandemic has safely passed.

“We’re hoping that in three to four months we’ll have a vaccine that is broadly available, and things will begin to return to normal,” she said.

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Chicago couple cancel wedding reception, use catering deposit to feed others for Thanksgiving

Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis had been planning a big wedding in a funky West Town warehouse, with catered food and 150 guests coming in from both coasts and lots of places in between.

But then the pandemic did what it’s done to so many giddy couples — it wrecked those elaborate plans.

“It just didn’t feel like it was in the cards,” said Bugg, 33, who lives in the Avondale neighborhood.

So last month, Bugg and Lewis, 34, decided to tie the knot anyway, alone, except for their photographer, before a judge on the 13th floor of the Daley Center. Bugg left her $1,400 wedding dress in the closet, choosing a simple white dress instead, as they made their way through the first-floor metal detector to the elevator and then to the courtroom.

With no guests, there would be no reception and no food — not for them at least. Bugg and her new husband decided that wouldn’t mean no celebration.

Bugg supervises a team of community outreach workers for Thresholds, a Chicago-based nonprofit that offers a range of services for people with serious mental illnesses.

Every year, Thresholds organizes big Thanksgiving gatherings for its clients. That couldn’t happen this year because of the pandemic.

“Our members look forward to the Thanksgiving party every year. So when they started asking when it would be and what would happen, that’s when the wheels started to turn,” Bugg said.

The couple persuaded their caterer, Big Delicious Planet, to use their $5,000 deposit to instead package up 200 Thanksgiving meals, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. Bugg and some of her co-workers personally delivered those meals last week to 200 Thresholds clients at their homes on the West Side.

The couple’s generosity was first reported by The Washington Post.

“She took what could have been a really sad situation for herself, her husband and her family and she turned it into something magical and beautiful,” said Bugg’s boss, Mark Ishaug, Thresholds CEO.

Or as Bugg puts it: “Even while we were disappointed, we realized we still have so much. Canceling a wedding compared to what other people were going through wasn’t as big a deal.”

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