COVID death toll increases after outbreak linked to church event

Three more people have died of coronavirus-complications linked to a major COVID-19 outbreak at a church in North Carolina, officials report.

This brings the total to at least 12 deaths and more than 200 cases, per The Charlotte Observer.

Large crowds of about 1,000 people attended United House Prayer for All People in Charlotte during a week in early October.

The amount of people allowed at the United House of Prayer violated an executive order signed by Gov. Roy Cooper that limits indoor gatherings to no more than 25 people.

PEOPLE notes that the church also disregarded coronavirus safety precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Officials said cases have been increasing at a rapid pace with 213 connected to the event. Cases have spanned four different counties.

While a few attendees have tested positive, a majority of those infected are people who did not visit the church but came in close contact with a participant.

The outlet notes that an outbreak at a nearby nursing home, Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Living, traced back at the church. Two residents have died.

“Most of our cases are secondary transmission at this point,” said Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris, according to WBTV.

It’s unclear how far the cases may spread as there were out-of-state attendees at the events. The health department notified counterparts in California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina to prepare for possible cases.

In-person gatherings were initially shut down at the church, but later adjusted to implement safety restrictions such as limiting the number of people inside.

Several COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked back to religious services including New York and Ohio.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram