A substantial COVID-19 cluster has been identified at a local North Carolina church.
Officials with the Henderson County Department of Public Health told News 13 that 72 COVID-19 cases have been linked to a Christmas celebration held by Hendersonville First Baptist Church.
The church refused to go on camera with News 13 but posted a statement online.ADVERTISING
It reads in part:
With a strong sense of unity, our ministers and deacons have decided to put our church on a thirty-day pause in regard to on-site worship. This also includes all ministry activities.
They go on to state that they will look at conditions in mid-January to see how and when they should move forward.
Other churches in the area, like Arden First Baptist Church, are now taking extra precautions.
Senior pastor Timothy Brown told News 13:
We just say we have four options; We have the online for those who are really high risk. Then you have the red zone for the next tier that want to come but they are really vulnerable to the virus so they’re in the back. The yellow zone is for those that are cautious but they come with masks. And then there’s the green zone for people that are going to be wise and stuff but we spread them out a little further with social distancing.
Arden First Baptist has even put in special air filters and removed pews, instead, opting to put in new chairs that are all separated at least six feet apart from each other.
But, Crystal O’Dell with Henderson County’s health department said the only real way to prevent another large spread is to stay home.
“We still advise against large gatherings because it does contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the community,” O’Dell told News 13. “We should really just be socializing with those in your own household.”
Click here to view guidelines for places of worship the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has published.
As of Dec. 15, Henderson County reports there has been a total of 4,188 total positive COVID-19 cases. 2,916 are considered recovered, 91 deaths associated with the virus have been reported and 791 cases reported have been affiliated with long-term care.