Local & State
|COVID-19 infections strike United House of Prayer For All People event|
|Mecklenburg health officials confirm 82 cases|
|Published Friday, October 23, 2020|
|More than 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been traced to the United House of Prayer's annual convocation Oct. 4-11 at the Mother House on Beatties Ford Road. There was a cluster of six cases at Madison Saints Paradise South Independent Living. Mecklenburg County health officials confirmed at least four hospitalizations and three deaths.|
Mecklenburg County Public Health has confirmed 82 COVID-19 cases connected with events held at the Mother House on Beatties Ford Road Oct. 4-11. Among the confirmed cases is a cluster of six cases at Madison Saints Paradise South Independent Living, where all residents were tested for COVID-19. Among the confirmed cases, there have been at least four hospitalizations and three deaths.
“We do not have a registry of all the folks who attended the events and we don't know [the exact number of individuals being tested] because people are getting tested at various testing providers across the community,” Dr. Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg’s deputy health director, said Wednesday at a press conference. “We were not made aware of the individuals who have been tested by name and we're able to track them that closely, so we don't know how many folks are waiting for test results, but we know that there are people who have been tested and are waiting for results.”
Public Health officials say they tried to reach 94 close contacts reported by the people who were confirmed infected, as well as health departments across the Carolinas, Georgia, New Jersey and New York. Anyone who has received a message from a contact tracer should call the contact tracing hotline at (980) 314-9401.
The pandemic has at times pitted the right to assembly – protected by the First Amendment – against municipal officials who urge COVID-suppressing strategies during worship services. Churches successfully sued North Carolina to hold services without limits, citing religious freedom. Other congregations have adopted virtual or drive-through services in addition to social distancing. Washington is encouraging House of Prayer leaders to suspend services for the time being to account for everyone who attended the convocation.
“I’m concerned about any future services at least in the near future,” he said. “Part of the concern is that we are unaware of how many individuals were potentially exposed or may currently be infected, either with or without symptoms. “We’re continuing to monitor the situation very closely, so I have personally advised the church not to host any other gatherings for at least 14 days. I have been in contact with the church about that twice now and so I think we are discouraging any gatherings at the church at the time.”
North Carolina, which is in Phase 3 of its reopening plan until at least Nov. 13, recommends but doesn’t require in-person worship limits of 100 people per room or 30% capacity, whichever is less.
Public Health advises anyone who attended the convocation or has been in contact with someone who was at the church that week should get tested for COVID-19 and if you show symptoms of the disease, avoid close contact with others. The health department provided free drive-thru testing Oct. 22-23 at the Northwest Health Department on Beatties Ford Road near the Mother House campus.
If you have questions about COVID-19 testing, call the health department at (980) 314-9400.
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