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Hundreds Gather For Wedding At Hilton Chicago/Northbrook With No Masks -- How Was This Allowed To Happen?

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (CBS) -- Hundreds of people crowded into a hotel ballroom on Wednesday, toasting newlyweds.

But in the middle of a pandemic, how is that allowed? That is what we wanted to know, too. So CBS 2's Charlie De Mar headed to the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook to find out.

The wedding at the hotel could be described as a potential COVID-19 super-spreader event, and on the same day Illinois hit the grim milestone of 238 deaths in one day – the most since the start of the pandemic. The national death toll was also a record for a single day.

The bride walked into a room filled with hundreds on her special day. All eyes were on her, and no masks were on to block the smiles.

At the Northbrook Hilton, where they promise a cleaner stay in the age of COVID, we saw no social distancing at the wedding – and the groups of people walking about without masks. Only a sparing number of people covered up.

But this wedding was somehow allowed at the prominent name-brand hotel.

It was estimated that there were 200 to 300 guests, despite the state putting a stop to all private parties and ballroom gatherings.

Photos provided to CBS 2 show a crammed cocktail hour - where friends and family embraced and the appetizers were finger-licking good.

So why did the Hilton Northbrook let this happen? CBS 2's De Mar walked in and tried to get answers.

"Is there someone who could explain how this was allowed to happen – hundreds of people here, no masks, no social distancing?" he asked the front desk.

We were told a manager was coming from another location, but an engineer quickly arrived – only to leave just as fast.

We also reached out to Hilton corporate. They say that the Hilton Northbrook is independently owned and operated and they couldn't speak on the individual hotel's behalf.

On Thursday, the Cook County health department said it was investigating.

"We are appalled that this event was allowed to proceed. We are considering citing the hotel and are investigating our legal options today," Rachel Rubin, MD, MPH, FACP, Senior Medical Officer and Co-Lead Kiran Joshi, MD, MPH, Senior Medical Officer and Co-Lead, Cook County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

Editor's note: The original version of this story included the religious affiliation of the wedding party which, in retrospect, is not germane. We've updated the story to remove the reference.

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