And a Little Tweet Shall Lead Them – Response to John MacArthur’s Worship Service

I thought about writing a post about John MacArthur’s decision to defy Governor Newsom’s restrictions of church gatherings. I planned to argue that his decision places his congregation and community in jeopardy. I also find fault with his Christian nationalist rationale for violating a legitimate public health edict. However, sometimes a tweet does this trick. Take this one from Hunter Crowder:

The state of California has a compelling interest in limiting the spread of COVID-19. California now has overtaken New York in the number of cases in the U.S.  Indoor church activities make spread easier for the virus and it is easy to understand why the governor wants to limit indoor crowd size.

The Supreme Court twice has let stand rulings that allowed states to restrict religious services and they may do it again. MacArthur may be using this for attention, I don’t know. However, given the situation before us, Hunter has as good a theory as anyone.

Additional information:

I have been tracking churches as a source of spread of COVID-19. You can see that post here.

For more on the COVID-19 outbreak at Allaso Ranch, click here.

Allaso Ranch’s Health Screening Form – “All Reasonable Measures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19”

Many have asked to see the COVID-19 waiver and health screening form. While it doesn’t seem to have the force of a waiver, it does screen for COVID-19 symptoms. It is vague about the risks involved and doesn’t spell out the extent of contact students will have with each other, volunteers, and staff.

The small print is really small so I have enlarged that section below:

There doesn’t appear to be an agreement to hold the camp harmless if a child falls ill to COVID-19. This document isn’t much help from an informed consent perspective. It says the Ranch is taking “all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” A reasonable measure that children were required to do on the bus ride to the Ranch was wear a mask. However, as soon as they were there, the teens were allowed to take them off, never to wear them again. That was an unreasonable measure. Given the trust many parents have in church leaders, I can see why parents would have thought that the Ranch would have required safer procedures.

In fact, according to the CDC guidelines for summer camps, the procedures at the camp placed campers and volunteers in the next to highest risk category.

The more people a camper or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in youth camp settings as follows:

  • Lowest Risk: Small groups of campers stay together all day, each day. Campers remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., city, town, county, community).

  • More Risk: Campers mix between groups but remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

  • Even More Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

  • Highest Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

In comparison to these guidelines, campers were in the “even more risk” category. Parents were not informed of this.

As of today, the church has remained mostly silent to the public with brief statements claiming CDC guidelines were followed with ill campers. However, what about the other CDC guidelines? The church has yet to come out with an explanation for why the other guidelines weren’t followed or provide a plan moving forward.

If you are a parent or camper with more information about your time at Allaso Ranch, you may contact me via email here.

Did Allaso Ranch Follow CDC Guidelines During Fellowship Church Camp?

In yesterday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fellowship Church issued a statement saying Allaso Ranch followed CDC guidelines during camp sessions in July. While it seems clear that the church did follow some guidelines, it seems just as clear that they did not follow critical mitigation guidelines such as social distancing and use of masks.

The CDC updated Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps in June.  Reviewing these guidelines, it appears that Allaso Ranch selectively followed them. The CDC set risk parameters as follows:

The more people a camper or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in youth camp settings as follows:

  • Lowest Risk: Small groups of campers stay together all day, each day. Campers remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., city, town, county, community).
  • More Risk: Campers mix between groups but remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Even More Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Highest Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

Anyone following any of the media on this story will know that campers and volunteers did not wear masks and did not stay 6 feet apart. Based on what I’ve seen and what parents and campers have said, the Allaso Ranch has placed campers at “even more risk.” Campers were mixed together in large groups, they were not spaced apart, activities were indoor and outdoor, but they were all from the same community (as far as I know). Examine the photos below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are numerous photos like these. The only masks I have seen were in a skit where the mouths were cut out of the masks. Otherwise campers and volunteers were not wearing masks. They did not social distance.

Some have complained that camp would be impossible with masks and social distancing. However, according to CDC guidelines — which Fellowship Church claimed to follow — masks and distancing are part of what can make camp safe. From the guidelines:

Cloth Face Coverings

  • Teach and reinforce the use of cloth face coverings. Face coverings may be challenging for campers (especially younger campers) to wear in all-day settings such as camp. Face coverings should be worn by staff and campers (particularly older campers) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. Information should be provided to staff and campers on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.

Masks are “most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult” says the CDC. That would be much of the time during camp.

In light of the CDC guidelines, I ask Fellowship Church and Allaso Ranch again why they didn’t follow them. They obviously know about them because they invoked them in their statement to the Star-Telegram.

The church is clearly following the media and public reaction. Late on Thursday, Amy Smith posted a promo for Fellowship Church’s Mix Camp on Twitter. Within the hour, the video had been removed from Youtube. Amy was able to post it to Twitter.

By the way, don’t miss the inclusion of black lives matter at the beginning as a crazy moment.

UPDATE: One of the mothers who publicly posted on Facebook updated her information late Thursday.

I want to add to this post. I did receive a call from Scott Wilson at Fellowship Church and discussed the situation and the church took action to start calling families. There have been many kids testing positive post camp. Covid-19 is tricky and you can have the virus without any symptoms. Many people get a headache and if not being vigilant- I could have missed the signs because they were not outright significant. Most of the children I know who’ve had Covid-19 have a slight fever and headache. While this may not be everyone’s experience, for us, it has not been the crazy the media has been depicting. Please continue to pray for healing for those effected in our lives. Choose the power of prayer and believe God will continue to guide us all through these uncertain times.

Although no numbers of cases were given, if “many kids” are testing positive, it seems like it would be prudent to postpone camp for the rest of the summer. Obviously, Texas is a hot spot and it seems likely that infected students or volunteers or staff are going to start the spreading all over again after the current two week break.

Fellowship Church Remains Silent on COVID-19 Outbreak at Allaso Ranch

Yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an article about the outbreak of COVID-19 cases among campers and staff voluneers at Allaso Ranch. As I did the day before, the paper reported that an unknown number of campers (according to one parent as many as 80 at present) contracted COVID-19 at Allaso Ranch during camping sessions during the month of July.

The Star-Telegram reporters interviewed parents who said they felt a false sense of security because their children had to wear masks on the bus ride from Fellowship Church to Allaso Ranch. However, according to the campers, they were allowed to remove the masks as soon as they arrived, never to wear them again.

Photos of camp activities confirm the reports of campers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to camp guidelines: “Camp staff will wear face coverings whenever they are in close proximity to others and while handing food.” If camp staff includes volunteer staff, this guideline wasn’t followed. In at least one of the instances documented by a parent, a staff volunteer was sick in a cabin exposing students to the virus. According to campers, staff volunteers did not wear masks. Food service workers did but volunteer staff can’t be seen in photos wearing masks. Understandably, parents have many questions and deserve answers.

No Comment

Despite the possibility that hundreds of campers appear to have been exposed to COVID-19, Fellowship Church and Allaso Ranch have been silent.  Neither organization has responded to my requests for comment or information and they did not respond to the Star-Telegram.

It is also disturbing that the parents quoted in the paper said they feared retribution. These parents are doing what parents should do. They are being protective of their children and warning other parents. I feel pretty sure that Fellowship Church thinks of itself as pro-family. It is now time to show it. Will Fellowship Church be pro-family or pro-Fellowship Church?

Fellowship Church Spreads Gospel and COVID-19 at Allaso Ranch (UPDATED)

Keystone Church in Keller, TX is under fire from parents who want answers about the number of COVID-19 cases among teens returning from a camp experience sponsored by the church. However, Keystone may not be the only church needing to provide answers. I have learned that campers and staff who attended Allaso Ranch this month sponsored by Ed Young’s Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX have also tested positive after attending the church’s Mix Camp 2020.

On 7/20, Amy Smith at her Watchkeep blog posted some social media postings about a possible COVID-19 outbreak due to Fellowship Church camping experiences at Allaso Ranch. A public Facebook posting described a camper and staffer positive with COVID.  Since then, I have had several conversations with multiple parents about their children who have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning from Allaso Ranch. One parent on Twitter pegged the number at ten positives, while others have no way to estimate since the church or camp has not offered that information. Emails to both the church and Allaso Ranch have not been answered.

One staffer developed symptoms and was sent home and is now quite ill. Another child tested positive but has more mild symptoms. Parents I spoke with said that they have heard from parents that other children have also tested positive. A Fellowship Church pastor called at least one of the parents and left a voice mail saying that a staff member at the camp tested positive during the camp week.

The pastor also said in his voicemail,

We followed every single procedure, actually gone above and beyond that, and anybody who may have exhibited any symptoms of anything, headache, cough, sneezing,whether it be a temperature, anything, we were on top of it and in fact if it was a trainer we just sent them home, and that actually took place in your [child’s] room and we sent [them] home, [they] were having some mild symptoms, we don’t know if their COVID positive, but we just took precautionary measures and sent them home, and there’s a new leader in that group. So we just wanted to let you know that, and if there is any COVID positivity, we will let you know that immediately.

While it was good that the pastor called this family, is it true that the camp followed every procedure? A review of photos of students at camp indicates that masks were not worn and social distancing was not followed. Here is a tweet from Fellowship Church as an illustration.

I also reviewed several photos from camp during July and campers are bunched together without masks throughout the week. According to the camp guidelines, masks are not required for campers. However, the guidelines specify that “Camp staff will wear face coverings whenever they are in close proximity to others and while handing food.” In the tweet photos and any other camp photos I have seen, volunteer staff are not wearing masks when they are near campers. If volunteer staff are considered staff, then it is understandable that parents would be concerned that guidelines may not have been followed.

Allaso Ranch has not posted (or has removed) pictures of camp from 2020. However, there are many photos of camp from past years. If you want to see what camp looks like at Allaso Ranch in 2020, go look at what it looked like in 2019.

As with the Keystone situation, there are hundreds of teens back in the community who may be spreading the virus without knowing it. Furthermore, the camp remains open to continue acting as a super spreader. Surely, Fellowship Church can find a way to spread the Gospel without spreading the virus.

UPDATE: Just after I posted this, another parent posted word on Facebook that her daughter attended Allaso Ranch and tested positive for COVID-19. Although this parent signed a waiver, she was under the impression that the camp was going to require mitigation efforts. However, she also confirms she saw no evidence that any efforts were conducted.

Here are some additional photos of campers at Allaso Ranch. Also, Fellowship Church has blocked Amy Smith on Twitter. Scroll down to the bottom tweet to see the photos. You will need to click that tweet.

Allaso Ranch – July 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have more information about COVID-19 cases at Allaso Ranch, contact me here.

Local Man Survives Shopping Trip While Wearing Mask

Local Man Survives Shopping Trip While Wearing Mask

GROVE CITY, PA – A local man went shopping for groceries late Wednesday night while wearing a cloth face covering in response to COVID-19 regulations. With his mask on, Warren Throckmorton, a professor at Grove City College, was able to secure numerous items during the 35 minute excursion without injuring his health.

“I know it might surprise some people, but I didn’t lose consciousness even once. My heart rate went up a little in the hot sauce section, but I think that was because of the great selection,” Throckmorton said.

Many shoppers in the local County Market were not wearing masks observed Throckmorton.

“From what Facebook says, I bet they were afraid they would pass out.”

Throckmorton said he was even able to engage in one of his favorite shopping activities with his mask on: Grooving to the background music.

“The store plays some really good tunes. I like to groove while I shop.”

When asked if he planned to try wearing the mask again for other activities, Throckmorton said, “Now that I know I won’t die from wearing a mask, the sky’s the limit.”

VIDEO EXTRA

Throckmorton demonstrates for the skeptical reader just how he was able to shop while wearing his mask without having a major health catastrophe.

The entire trip was uneventful except for the many people who were not wearing masks. We wear masks to protect others in the event we have COVID-19 and don’t know it. If everybody wears a mask, the spread can be slowed.

V.P. Pence’s Visit to First Baptist Church in Dallas: How Not to Do Church During a Pandemic

Buzzfeed News is reporting this morning what I wanted to report last week but couldn’t verify: Prior to V.P. Mike Pence’s visit to First Baptist Church in Dallas on Sunday, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 among the church’s orchestra and choir. I had heard this from two twitter accounts but could not get primary source verification, so I didn’t run with it.

Buzzfeed reporters were able to get that confirmation and went with the story today. The video of the event shows that the choir was singing and the orchestra was playing without masks. The congregation was close together and the only real precautions were taken by Pence. You don’t need to watch the whole video to see what I mean:

 

Texas is experiencing a scary surge in cases and V. P. Pence should have shown leadership by canceling his appearance and urging Robert Jeffress to hold an online event. Just last week, in neighboring Arkansas, fellow evangelical Governor Asa Hutchinson told the public that the churches who are not experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks are the ones using masks and social distancing. He identified by name nine churches on a naughty list of churches which had not been following guidelines and thus experiencing more cases of COVID-19.

Jeffress’ church was a clinic in how not to do things. Singing and playing wind instruments are effective ways of spreading a virus. The congregation was not spaced properly and it appears not all were wearing masks. Given that some of the orchestra members have been infected (although none of those members were there), it is possible that some of the orchestra members playing that Sunday had been exposed in prior rehearsals.

While it appears that most church leaders are trying to take COVID-19 seriously, I don’t see how it helps to have so-called leaders disregard best practices. I have been tracking church outbreaks for just over a month and it is starting to get a little hard to keep up with. I count 48 churches as of this writing. As the pandemic enlarges in the U.S., it may be difficult to keep a complate count.

In any case, having church as normal can be a super spreading event and leaders need to heed best practices while still caring for their flocks.

Trump’s Visit to Arizona: COVID Ionization and Irresponsibility

Here we are in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and Donald Trump is going to have another indoor rally, this time in a church. If you get sick, you can’t blame anybody but yourself. In fact, as with the rally in Tulsa, you have to sign a waiver to get in.

The rally is being held in The Dream Center (a mega church), and is put on by Turning Point USA’s Students for Trump. I wonder if parents have to sign for the minors who attend.

In any case, no one is responsible. Another way of saying it is that many people are irresponsible.

Dream City Church must not be too confident that their new ionization technology to kill all the COVID-19 in the place. Hat tip to the Friendly Atheist for this item. Although the church has since taken down the video, this Twitter user has it:

Earlier today, I wrote the company, CleanAirEXP, and asked for the research backing. I haven’t heard anything yet. The company has tried the technology on a surrogate virus, not COVID-19. Other companies have studied this approach and some use it on airplanes. Limited work has been done on COVID-19 in small spaces. According to a presentation posted just today on YouTube, small spaces can be neutralized, but they did not say if a large church space has been tested with people singing and yelling. The salesman for the technology suggested sneezing or coughing next to a person would allow COVID-19 to spread to people in close proximity.

Whatever the capability in this church, none of the people hosting or running the event want to be responsible for any sickness and death that come from it. I hope it obvious that no one should attend this event, even if you support Trump.

Eric Metaxas Uncritically Features Anti-Vaccine Proponent

Eric Metaxas has been in the hot seat lately due to his race baiting tweet in response to Joe Biden (see this post for that story). However, there is something else that in times past would relegate Metaxas to the fringe.

On his radio show last week, he gave 36 minutes to Kent Heckenlively, the co-author with Judy Mikovits, of the conspiratorial book Plague of Corruption. Mikovits is the star of the documentary “Plandemic” that made the rounds in early May. Metaxas treated Heckenlively as a serious guest with truth to reveal. In the process, he gave the anti-vax movement a huge public relations win. Watch:

In this video, Heckenlively claims and Metaxas accepts that aborted fetal tissue is in vaccines, and harmful viruses are in vaccines. The fictitious vaccine-autism link is implied along with other wild ideas. Heckenlively is allowed to provide a full recitation of the anti-vax catalog. Metaxas is completely unprepared for these claims and can’t or doesn’t want to offer any skeptical response. For all practical purposes, Eric Metaxas produced a 36 minute commercial for the anti-vax movement.

Recently, the Gospel Coalition and Christianity Today have offered warnings about conspiracy theories in the church. With Eric Metaxas favorably featuring the anti-vax movement, there is evidence they may be too late.

 

David Barton (left), Eric Metaxas (right)

Churches and the Spread of COVID-19

Churches – 185

Cases – 2,150

Deaths – 27

As of August 7, 2020, I count 185 church gatherings associated with at least 2150 cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths.

Due to inadequate record keeping in many states and secrecy by many churches, I suspect this significantly underestimates the actual numbers. For instance, New Mexico keeps track of location of exposure but doesn’t report outbreaks by source location.

……………………………………………..

Regularly updated. Scroll down for section (6/29) on churches being monitored due to contact tracing. This section is useful for people who want to know if they have attended a church where an infected person has attended. 

………………………………………………

On May 22, Donald Trump has threatened to “override” governors who have limited church gatherings. He can’t do that legally and he shouldn’t try. Furthermore, governors should resist the calls of some church leaders to remove restrictions. Going to church is not like shopping or even eating out. With this post, I plan to keep a running list of situations where churches have met together and spread the virus in an outbreak of cases or a church has closed because of a positive case due to a church service.

Some are widely known. In South Korea, much of the spread was due to a new religious movement where a single infected person spread the virus to many people in church. Several days ago, I wrote about the differences between church going and shopping and concluded that many things we do in church make it easy for the virus to spread.

Alabama

Eight members of the Ider Church of God in Ider, AL tested positive for COVID-9. The pastor announced that they all are in quarantine.

First Baptist Church of Tillman’s Corner has shut down after being re-opened for a short time. Several staff members and pastors came down with the virus after reopening. One report said 20 members have been infected. The pastor said the church followed social distancing guidelines.

In Trussville, the First United Methodist Church has closed in person services due to the pastor and four members of his family contracting COVID-19.

Forty cases are associated with a Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church revival meeting in Strawberry, AL.

Arizona

Gary Marquez, senior pastor at North Swan Baptist Church in Tucson died of COVID-19 July 5th. Others in the congregation have tested positive as well.

Arkansas

The CDC reported this past week that an Arkansas church was involved in the spread of COVID-19 in March. Here is the CDC description:

Among 92 attendees at a rural Arkansas church during March 6–11, 35 (38%) developed laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, and three persons died. Highest attack rates were in persons aged 19–64 years (59%) and ≥65 years (50%). An additional 26 cases linked to the church occurred in the community, including one death.

The Christian Post also reported on this church.

Services held in a church in North Little Rock in June are associated with 14 cases of COVID-19. The church is First Pentecostal Church and testing is being done to determine if more cases associated with services exist.

The AR Department of Health issued a report card of sorts on churches where COVID-19 infected people have attended. Most churches had one or two people attend with COVID and nothing more came from it because they followed the social distancing and masking guidelines. However, in 9 churches, there are outbreaks associated with not following the guidelines according to Director of the Department of Health Matt. Watch his explanation. Following that, I will list the churches with two of more cases (the red dots).

Churches which have more than two cases associated with attendance at church services (red dots) are:

Central Baptist Church- Central Campus, Jonesboro
St Raphael Catholic Church, Springdale
New Beginnings, De Queen
New Beginnings Church, Springdale
Lifeline Ministry Church of God in Christ, Nashville
Slaty Crossing Free Will Baptist Church, Dardanelle
First Pentecostal Church, North Little Rock (this church is reported above)
Big T Apostolic Church, Corning

Below is an image depicting where the cases of COVID-19 have shown up in AR churches. The red dots are listed above and according to Governor Hutchinson were not following the recommendations for social distancing and use of masks.

At 6:18 in the video briefing above, Gov. Hutchinson explains that 98% of churches are doing a good job but those who are not have helped contribute to cases. He then put this image before the audience.

California

Cases of COVID-19 have been related to Mother’s Day services in two CA churches. In one church, at least nine cases are tied to the church service and in the other, two cases are known to relate to attendance at the church.

In April, a Russian language evangelical church near Sacramento was the center of an outbreak. Seventy cases of COVID-19 were traced back to the church. Small group gatherings may have contributed to the spread of the virus.

A Chula Vista church is being investigated due to an outbreak there. The pastor and church defied mitigation measures, but then three members tested positive for the virus as of June 9.

Two Catholic churches in Dixon, CA have closed because a priest and unknown number of members have contracted the virus. In at least one case, masking guidelines were not followed.

An unnamed church in Redding is associated with 10 cases according the health department.

Colorado

Andrew Wommack Ministries: Summer Family Bible Conference has experienced an outbreak. Counting staff and attendees, forty-one cases are associated with this religious gathering.

Calvary Worship Cenrer in El Paso is associated with 7 cases.

Two churches in Garfield County are associated with a total of 22 cases. A report identified them as Iglesia de Dios Pentacostal and Iglesia Misionera Pentecostes.

The Springs Journey in Colorado Springs is associated with an outbreak as is The Height in Denver.

Delaware

Three cases stem from a three-day conference at Destiny Christian Church in Dover.

Florida

In Hialeah, Iglesia Bautista Northside has experienced an outbreak of four cases with others being tested.

Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater reports six cases among staff with two in the hospital. The church is moving to online services.

Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in San Marco discovered that 21 members of the church had COVID-19 back in March.

Georgia

Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle opened their church to in person services in April only to close again in early May after just two weeks of services due to reported infections among congregants. The infections occurred despite significant social distancing precautions and low attendance at the services.

In Cartersville, GA as many as 15 cases of COVID-19 were connected to an infected person who attended the Church at Liberty Square in early March. The church then moved to online services. Dr. Melissa Dillman told The Cancer Letter that most deaths from COVID-19 in Floyd County, GA came from that church service.

Air Line Baptist Church in Gainesville has been forced to go back to online services due to an outbreak. It is not clear how many members are infected.

Savannah Holy Church of God is associated with 9 cases. The Savannah church did not reveal the outbreak in June when it occurred. Two members died.

Hawaii

An unnamed church on Maui was associated with a cluster of cases in April. No details were given by health officials.

Illinois

A church near Chicago is associated with 10 confirmed cases and another 33 congregants with COVID-like symptoms after a church service in March. The stay at home orders had not been imposed at the time.

The Cathedral of Worship in Quincy is associated with “several positive cases.” Services will not be held this weekend (7/5) at the church.

A small outbreak of 3 cases was reported at Cornerstone Ministries in Litchfield. The exposure took place between June 21 to June 28. As of July 8, that outbreak grew to 25 cases.

Several positive cases have been traced to an unnamed church in Mt Vernon, Jefferson County, IL.

A Jackson County church is responsible for about 25% of the county’s 260 cases.

Indiana

New Castle church Turning Point Life Center started services on Mother’s Day with social distancing and simultaneous online services. In June, “several families” reported positive COVID diagnoses. In person services were suspended.

A church camp in Indiana is associated with 40 cases among staff. The camp only had 50 staff.

Iowa

Associated with the virus in Harvest Baptist Church, Fort Dodge are 2 members of the church.

Kansas

From March 16 to March 22, a Church of God denomination conference was held in Kansas City, KS. As of a April 20 news report, there were 7 deaths and 51 COVID-19 cases associated with attendance at that conference.

The Kansas Department of Health reported 9 cases relating to an out of state church camp.

Kentucky

In March, a Hopkins County revival meeting led to infections that spread throughout the state. At least 30 cases and three deaths have been linked to the meeting.

A Nicholasville, KY church is the scene of an outbreak. The church’s pastor was a vocal opponent of stay at home measures but now has postponed services until June 21.

Officials want to hear from people who attended Solid Rock Church in Burning Springs between May 28 and June 3. Several cases are associated with attendance at that church.

The Trinity Holiness Tabernacle Church has been linked to a spike of cases in Perry Co., KY. The county shows 28 cases and surrounding counties are in the single digits. State health authorities have traced an undisclosed number of cases to the church.

An outbreak was reported on June 15 at Big Hill Holiness Church in Jackson Co. Sixteen cases have been associated with this outbreak.

In Jackson Co., a small outbreak of six cases has been located in the Annville Holiness Church.

From July 19 to July 30, attendance at the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Winchester could have exposed someone to COVID-19. Five cases are associated with that location and a camp in Ohio associated with the church.

Calvary Church of God in Johnson County is associated with 5 cases in two counties.

Saxon Independent Baptist Church in Whitley County is associated with 9 cases.

A church in Hardin County is the source of an outbreak of 40 cases.

Massachusetts

An outbreak has been reported at an unnamed church in MA.

Michigan

A pentecostal church in East Lansing is the source of 12 cases of COVID-19 after exposure in a July 1 service.

A church camp near Gladwin reported several cases of COVID-19 which forced the closure of the camp.

Minnesota

Two small Catholic churches, one in Maple Lake and the other in Annandale, share clergy who have tested positive for COVID-19. Despite following guidelines, volunteers and others have tested positive and are displaying symptoms of the virus. All three of the clergy who serve both churches are positive or symptomatic.

Missouri

In Purdy, MO, a church closed due to two members being infected with COVID-19.  Arnhart Baptist Church will be closed on July 5 and July 12.

Open Arms Baptist Church hosted a revival meeting from June 28-July 2. Six cases have been associated with that meeting in Macon, MO. As of July  9, the number of cases has increased to 21.

Apostolic Promise Church in Cape Girardeau is closed due to three church leaders positive for COVID-19.

Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City reports three cases among youth in the church. A focus is a youth meeting which took place July 1.

A Christian camp in MO — Kanakuk Camp — has reported 82 cases of COVID-19.

According to a tweet from the Jackson County, MO Health Department: “There are currently 30 confirmed cases from an exposure at Old Paths Baptist Church between July 19 – July 24.” The church is in Independence, MO.

Navajo Nation

The Navajo reservation takes in parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. After a March service at Chilchinbeto Church of the Nazarene, 29 people came down with COVID-19; at least 5 have died.

New Mexico

In the two week period ending July 28, 5.2% of exposures to COVID-19 were in houses of worship. This is the only area where exposures increased during that period.

New York

On July 29, Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Buffalo has an outbreak of 10 cases associated with it. That has been updated to 14 on 8/6/20.

North Carolina

Today, according to WLOS, Macon County Public Health reported seven members of Evangelical Ebenezer Church in Franklin, NC have tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials have identified this as a “cluster” of cases and identified the source as the church.

In Asheboro, a cluster has been identified at Crossroad Baptist Church. Nine cases have been associated with the services there between July 5-7.

Faith Community Church in Asheboro is associated with 5 cases. Exposure would have taken place between July 5-19.

In Bennet, Beulah Baptist Church has recorded 7 cases. These may be associated with a youth outing. Exposure would have been likely between July 8 and July 30.

This report comes from a Chattanooga, TN paper:

The Hamilton County Health Department announced exposure to positive cases of COVID 19 with participants that attended the Windy Gap Young Life Camp, 120 Coles Cove Road, Weaverville, N.C. between July 24 and July 31.

Ohio

There are few details here but Ohio’s governor Mike Dewine identified a traveling minister as the source of an outbreak in several churches in Southwest Ohio. A later update associated 91 cases with this outbreak and Tuscarawas County.

Gates of Praise Church in Fairborn, OH (near Dayton) has been identified as being associated with an outbreak. At least 14 cases are associated with the church including one woman who is fighting for her life.

On July 10, Huron CO. health officials reported  12 COVID-19 cases  were associated with outbreaks at two churches, Collins United Methodist Church  in Collins, and West Hartland United Methodist, Norwalk.

From July 19 to July 30, attendance at the Pilgrim Holiness Church and church camp in Winchester, could have exposed someone to COVID-19. Five cases are associated with those locations.

Christian Life Center in Heath is the site of an outbreak of 32 confirmed cases.  Another church in St. Louisville in Licking County has a small outbreak.

Oregon

Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Eastern Oregon is associated with an outbreak of cases in Union County. As of June 19, over 230  members of the congregation have tested positive. This represents over two-thirds of the congregation. This church took direct guidance from Trump’s guidance to open in person church services. The outbreak followed renewed services.

South Carolina

World Overcomers Ministries in North Charleston has continued having services with COVID-19 positive members. The news report did not give a number of infected people.

South Dakota

As of August 3, 96 campers and staff at Camp Judson outside Keystone have tested positive for COVID-19.

Tennessee

Westmore Church of God in Cleveland has closed due to an outbreak there. The exact number of cases associated isn’t known but according to the church, there are at least 12 cases. The church did not practice social distancing, allowed singing, and didn’t require masks.

Covenant Baptist Church in Cleveland has closed services due to an outbreak of 20 cases there. The pastor is among those who have been infected.

Texas

A Calvary Chapel in San Antonio is associated with dozens of cases including the pastor and his wife.  Church people may have spread the virus through lack of social distancing due to hugging when the church met for services.

A Catholic church closed services after several members came down with COVID-19. The transmission is unclear but 5 members of an order associated with the church tested positive.

Although not officially an outbreak yet, a Catholic church in Houston was closed because a priest and church staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

A Killeen church has reported 10 cases tied to a singer in a service even though masks were worn and social distancing was practiced. Now the church is having services online.

A church camp in Tarrant county is associated with 19 cases. More investigation is ongoing. Keystone Church in Keller sponsored the camping activity.

First Baptist Church of Dallas has an outbreak in their choir and orchestra. This has been kept secret by the church but was reported by Buzzfeed News. This situation is especially noteworthy since the pastor of the church is Robert Jeffress, a key supporter of Donald Trump. It also was occuring the same weekend V.P. Mike Pence visited the church.

Despite the fact that the leadership was aware of the outbreak, the orchestra and choir performed during the Pence visit without masks and in close proximity. Watch:

Another megachurch, Fellowship Church pastored by Ed Young, appears to have an outbreak relating to a church camp and lack of mitigation measures. As reported by Amy Smith at her Watchkeep blog, several parents of youth at the church are reporting that several participants at a recent church camp have tested positive for COVID-19. At a more recent camp session sponsored by Fellowship Church, at least one staff child and a camper have been infected as indicated by this Facebook posting.

I have a specific post on this situation here.

A Copperas Cove church sponsored a special meeting and spread the infection due to the fact that the guest speaker was positive. The pastor of the church counted 20 likely to have COVID-19.

Virginia

A minister who defied mitigation efforts died from the virus. Gerald Glenn of Chesterfield VA vowed to continue preaching but succumbed to the virus back in April. Several of his family members also contracted the virus.

West Virginia

The first COVID-19 death in WV was a member of a Baptist church in Everettville. Due to lack of resources and tracing, it is unclear how many people became infected, but at least five did after attending a service of between 90 and 120 people back in March.

Greystone Baptist Church in Ronceverte (Greenbriar Co.) is now linked to 41 cases with many more people being tested. Two other unnamed churches have also reported outbreaks relating to meeting together. One of those churches may be this Hampshire Co. church which reported 8 cases.

Governor Justice reported on June 13 that 24 new cases statewide had been associated with church attendance.  In his update, “The Governor added that the primary factor in these outbreaks was that the organizations had not adequately planned or put in place social distancing or infection control guidelines.” Although details were not released on the fifth church, a state of WV press release said five churches in all have experienced outbreaks due to meeting together.

A sixth church in WV has been identified. The First Baptist Church in Wheeling has been associated with 21 positive cases. Because the church did not close when the outbreak was first identified on June 10, the outbreak has grown.

Thirty cases have been associated with an outbreak at North Charleston Apostolic Church in Charleston.

Although he didn’t name the churches, Gov. Jim Justice said on July 17th that outbreaks had been associated with churches in “Boone, Kanawha, Raleigh and Taylor counties.” Assuming one church per county, that would mean there are 10 churches in West Virginia associated with outbreaks as of 7/19.  As of July 29,  Grant, Logan, and Mason counties can be added to that list. A high of 137 cases were associated with church outbreak on July 27. This is since July 17.  As of 8/7/20, Cabell County can be added to this list.

An unnamed church near Petersburg had 28 positive COVID-19 cases following a youth retreat and evening services.

Wisconsin

In Sheboygan County, a Wisconsin pentecostal church has been linked to 23 cases of COVID-19. The person who spread the virus is between 20-30 years of age and had allergy like symptoms.

In Madison, High Point Church reports a few cases but has continued to have church with social distancing.

Churches Being Monitored

In this section, I am just going to list churches under scrutiny by health officials because someone attended a service and was COVID-19 positive. These churches haven’t experienced an outbreak, but attenders have been exposed due to public meetings (if known, the date of the meeting(s) is provided).

Anchorage Samoan Assembly of God – Anchorage, AK – 7/17/20

The Road@Chapel Hills – Colorado Springs, CO – 7/26/20

Charis Christian Center – Colorado Springs, CO – 7/19/20

Holy Comforter St. Cyprian Catholic Church – D.C. (Washington) – 7/25/27/20

First Assembly of God – Fort Myers, FL – 6/10/20 (a young girl attended a young event and then died of COVID-19 two later)

Holy Family Catholic Church – Decatur, IL – 7/30-8/2

Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church – Waterloo, IL – 7/9/20

Lake Ridge Christian Church – Paris, IL – 7/5/20

Keith Memorial Tabernacle Church – Magoffin, KY – 8/3/20

Immanuel Baptist Church – Corunna, MI – 7/4/20

Resurrection of the Lord Parish – Standish, MI – 6/28/20

Calvary Baptist Church – West Branch, MI – 6/28/20

St. Matthew Lutheran Church – Holt, MI – 7/5/20

Freedom Christian Center – Aurora, MO – 7/5-7/20

Sentinel Missionary Baptist Church – Bolivar, MO – 7/5/20

New Beginnings Fellowship – Branson, MO – 6/21/20

Santuary of Hope Church – Branson, MO – 7/5/20

Bethel Assembly of God – Cape Girardeau, MO – 7/5/20

First Christian Church – Cassville, MO – 7/10/20

Salem Baptist Church – Center, MO – 6/29/20

Pleasant Green Baptist Church – Madison, MO – 7/26/20

Courageous Life Church – Independence, MO – 7/26/20

Grace Pointe Free Will Baptist Church – Marion Co., MO – 6/21/20

St. Pius X Church – Moberly, MO – 8/3/20

The Pentecostal Church – Moberly, MO – 8/3/20

Monett Church of the Nazarine – Monett, MO – 6/28/20

First Assembly of God – Jefferson City, MO – 6/14, 21, 28/20

The Bridge Church – Nixa, MO – 7/5/20

Pomona Christian Church – Pomona, MO – 7/26/20

Agape Baptist Church – Stockton, MO – 7/5/20

James River Church – Ozark, MO – 7/5/20

Holy Family Catholic Church – Las Vegas, NV – 7/5/20

Dennison Four Square Church – Dennison, OH – 7/5&12/20

Temple Tots Day Care (in Temple Baptist) – Portsmouth, OH – 7/2/20

St. Albert the Great Catholic Church – Baldwin, PA – 7/5-12/20

South Cleveland Church of God – Cleveland, TN – 6/22/20

One City Church – Beaumont, TX – 7/12-26/20

First Baptist Church -Farmersville, TX – 7/12/20

Buena Vista Presbyterian Church – Buena Vista, VA – 6/21/20

Multiple locations in Arkansas – 6/25/20 – The AR Dept of Health released a list of 44 churches visited by someone who was COVID-19 positive. I did not list this above because the DOH is not sure if the infection came from the church or if there is an outbreak in the church. However, at least 8 of the churches have had more than two cases in their services at some time during the pandemic. According to the DOH:

The information provided in this report represents exposure locations for the full duration of the COVID19 pandemic until 6/25/2020. The information presented was reported to the Arkansas Department of Health during case surveillance and contact tracing efforts as reported by a known COVID-19 case. The church locations are places patients reported visiting during their infectious period, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate they became infected there. As more cases are contacted, the information found in this report will change.

France

This was one of the earliest outbreaks related to a church service. About 2500 people took part in a Lenten service which led to 10 cases very quickly after the March service. From there, cases multiplied throughout France.

Germany

More than forty people tested positive (this report says 100 cases) after attending a Baptist church service in Frankfurt, Germany. According to news reports, the church adhered to social distancing guidelines.

Another church, this time in Bremerhaven, is the site of another outbreak. Over 100 people have been infected with one death associated with a service in early June.

South Korea

The CDC reports eight churches in South Korea where there are clusters of infections (in parentheses): Jusarang Church in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi (9),  Elim Church in Gumi City, Gyeongbuk (8). Dong-an Church-PC Cafe in Seoul (20), Manmin Central Church in Seoul (41), Onchun Church in Busan (39),Grace River Church in Seongnam (72), Bucheon Saeng MyeongSu Church in Gyeonggi (48), and Geochang Church in Gyeong-nam (10),

Summary

There are many reasons why a church service is a good environment for spreading the virus (see this post for a discussion). Despite social distancing, some church gatherings have been responsible for the spread of the virus. During the Spanish Flu pandemic churches closed down until it was safe to meet again. We should be patient and follow their example.

I urge readers to leave other cases of church spread in the comments and I will add more as I find them.

More information on churches and COVID:

A new dilemma for Trump’s team: Preventing super-spreader churches – Politico (6/29/20)

Churches were eager to reopen. Now they are confronting Coronavirus cases. New York Times (7/8/20)

Churches face outbreaks, many challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic
Chicago Tribune (7/12/20)