A week-long church event in North Carolina has led to three deaths, five hospitalizations and at least 82 COVID-19 cases, health officials announced Thursday.
The United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, North Carolina hosted the events between October 4 and 11 that was attended by more than 1,000 people, including people from out of state.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department said those infected include event attendees and their close contacts.
This is now considered the single largest outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County.
One person who died was a resident at the Madison Saints Paradise Independent Living Center. Now the center has a cluster of eight residents who have tested positive for coronavirus.
A week-long church event at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, North Carolina (above) has led to three deaths, five hospitalizations and at least 82 COVID-19 virus cases, health officials announced Thursday
Health officials have reached out to 131 close contacts of the infected, including health departments in North and South Carolina, Georgia and New York.
The department said Thursday in an update that at least 127 individuals were tested today. The health department will host another testing event for attendees Friday.
The county first warned of the cluster of cases on Saturday October 17, nearly a week after the events were held. At the time officials reported nine confirmed cases linked to the church’s events held October 10 and 11.
‘We are aware that there were convocation activities throughout the week,’ the local health department said in a statement.
One person who died was a resident at the Madison Saints Paradise Independent Living Center (above). Now the center has a cluster of eight residents who have tested positive for coronavirus
‘Following initial case investigations, it was determined that the early cases were most likely connected to the larger events held on Saturday and Sunday. As the case count has grown, we are aware of additional cases likely connected to smaller events that occurred during the week.
‘Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend anyone who participated in any of these events to closely monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested as soon as possible,’ the statement added.
‘One of the reasons why we discourage large gatherings is because they are difficult to manage,’ Dr. Raynard Washington, the deputy health director for Mecklenburg County, said to WSOCTV.
One man who asked to remain anonymous said he didn’t feel comfortable going to the event.
‘I decided because of health reasons in my family, I wasn’t going there. It should have never been held. It was just too many people,’ he said.
Another church member said that the event was not properly socially distanced.
‘How can you honestly say that you’re taking the necessary steps. Even in the tent. The tent was purposely not socially distanced,’ the source said.
Health officials said church leaders took significant steps to ensure attendees worke masks and practiced social distancing but it was difficult to enforce.
As of Monday, the state agency reported 76 COVID-19 clusters in religious gatherings resulting in 1,040 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths.
Overall, North Carolina has 252,992 total cases and 4,082 deaths.
Nationally the US has more than 8million cases and more than 222,000 deaths related to COVID-19.