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Parents Express Concerns About COVID-19 After Private Prom Held Across Border in Indiana

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The Will County Health Department is collecting information to see if a private prom attended by teens from a suburban high school might be linked to any potential coronavirus cases.

In recent days, officials have seen an increase in coronavirus cases in the Frankfort area after a private prom was held just across the Indiana border last week.

The private event was held in Hobart, Indiana for approximately 250 kids and chaperones from Lincoln Way East High School last week.

Organizers for the event say that masks were provided to everyone who attended, with proceeds generated from an online campaign and from ticket sales.

“We spaced out tables, we cut down on the number of people who could sit at tables, and we cut down on the number of people we could have at the event,” Caeelin Flaherty, a student organizer, said.

Even with those precautions, some parents say they are concerned, saying that they are seeing an unusual amount of COVID-19 cases and sick teens in the days following the event.

“When you bring that many people together, even if you’re social distancing, you are taking a risk,” Kristin Eaton, a mother of a teen who attends Lincoln Way East, said.

Eaton says that her son was called into work this week because four fellow teens, coworkers of his, had to call off because they were being forced to quarantine. Others have tested positive, affecting businesses who rely on the teens to work at the locations during the summer.

“A number of her employees were kids at school that weren’t able to come to work because they had to quarantine for two weeks,” Eaton said.

Eaton says that photos on social media showed kids at the prom not wearing masks and not social distancing, but organizers say they were adamant that attendees follow the rules.

“We tried to do everything correctly for CDC guidelines and Indiana state guidelines,” Flaherty said.

Dr. Sital Bhargava says that any kids who potentially were exposed to COVID-19 could now be exposing others to the virus as well, and says that allowing kids to attend an event in another state, which has different coronavirus restrictions in place, isn’t helpful in terms of stopping the spread of the virus.

“I don’t think they could have had that many kids and done it safely,” Dr. Bhargava said. “I think it had to be smaller groups.”

As of Tuesday, NBC 5 Investigates data shows that Frankfort has reported 242 cases of coronavirus, and while that data does show a climb in cases, it’s been more gradual, rather than a rapid spike.

“We’re inching up every day,” Bhargava said. “Our main goal should be flattening the curve, and we’re going in the opposite direction. So I’m sure it plays a part in the numbers.”

The Will County Health Department confirmed Tuesday that it is collecting information and is looking into the prom, to see whether or not students attending the event are indeed potentially spreading the virus.

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