A tragedy is unfolding in North Carolina right now after a COVID-19 outbreak linked to a large church gathering has now been linked to at least a dozen deaths and more than 200 serious cases.
Back in early October, the United House of Prayer for All People reportedly held “several large gatherings” over the span of a week, opting to worship without proper coronavirus safety precautions. According to reports, the church went without required mask wearing or any social distancing — and now, cases linked to those gatherings are leading to deaths.
So much for Love Thy Neighbor!
According to a report from local news station WBTV, the total number of cases linked back to the church gathering is now up to 213 — as of November 19, at least — in addition to the dozen deaths. Health officials have apparently determined that cases in four different counties around the Charlotte metro area have now been linked, with “significant community spread” to the point where the majority of cases are in people who did not visit the church.
Tragically, churchgoers from that fateful October week have since spread the virus to the nearby Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Home. There, two residents have died from this specific strain of the outbreak, with 19 others testing positive and battling the virus now.
All large in-person gatherings were initially shut down at the church in response to the large-scale outbreak, though Mecklenburg County Health Department officials later adjusted their restrictions after the church agreed to make itself available for consistent health inspections and limit the number of people inside at any one time. According to the Charlotte Observer, church leaders were “excited and thankful to be able worship the Lord and do so together,” after the health department softened their restrictions.
This, of course, represents the danger in hosting large gatherings anywhere, whether it’s a church or any place else. People inevitably carry the virus — whether asymptomatic or not — to the gathering, they transmit it to others there, and those people then carry it home to loved ones and everyone else they come into contact with through the incubation period. And it’s all the more tragic that so many people have died because of this one specific event.
We totally understand that many people desperately want to worship in church — especially during a difficult year like 2020 — and we LOVE being in a country that allows us all the freedom to worship however and believe whatever we wish. But at the same time, this pandemic is out of control!! And gatherings like this are making it worse! Just because we have freedom doesn’t mean we don’t also have responsibility!
We’re not here to demonize the church for this at all. We respect how important worship is to many people, and would never want to take that away. All we’re asking is people take responsible precautions to avoid large gatherings (especially indoors!), wear a mask, and socially distance. If we all really commit to that, this thing will be over much sooner, and we can get back to normal activities like worshipping in large groups once again VERY soon!
[Image via WCNC News/YouTube]