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More deaths linked to COVID-19 outbreak at Charlotte church, but health officials say they've turned a corner

Mecklenburg County Health Director explained to county commissioners Wednesday why United House of Prayer's coronavirus outbreak is showing positive signs.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — County health officials have now confirmed 187 cases of COVID-19, eight deaths and at least 11 hospitalizations related to a coronavirus outbreak at the United House of Prayer For All People in north Charlotte. Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County's Public Health Director, provided the update Wednesday evening to Mecklenburg County commissioners. 

The update means there are six new cases since this past weekend, two additional deaths, and one new hospitalization. 

Of the 187 confirmed cases, 179 are within Mecklenburg County, four are within Gaston County, four within Iredell County, and one within Cabarrus County. Of the eight deaths, seven were in Mecklenburg County, with one in Gaston County. 

A cluster at Madison Saints Paradise Senior Living is also believed to be connected to the church. Sixteen residents there have tested positive, and two have died. Three staff members have tested positive as part of the cluster. Those numbers are included in the total confirmed cases and deaths, according to Mecklenburg County health officials. 

Harris said despite the increases, there are signs the outbreak could be slowing.

"We're seeing a real reduction in the number of (new) cases," Harris said. "There are very few at this point. Most of those are secondary cases -- so people who attended then exposed someone else."

Health officials believe more than 1,000 people attended the week-long services held at the church from October 4 to 11, and many were from other states. Mecklenburg County does not track potentially related cases in people who live out of state but said it has notified local health departments in other states.

The location on Beatties Ford Road is the church's main campus. It was originally ordered to remain closed until November 5, but Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said last week the location would be allowed to reopen as long as it adheres to proper guidelines regarding capacity.

"We have found that the pastors and the staff at all of those sites have been very responsive and engaged and have been willing to work with us on this guidance," Harris previously said.

Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said state leaders are worried that people are letting down their guard and gathering in large crowds, putting themselves at risk for spreading coronavirus.


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