CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The United House of Prayer For All People in north Charlotte has now been linked to over 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least three deaths, according to Mecklenburg County Deputy Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington.
Washington announced Friday that a super-spreader event at the church earlier this month has resulted in 101 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 99 of those being in Mecklenburg County and two in Iredell County. So far, three people have died from the virus linked to the event. Two of those victims were over the age of 60, according to Washington.
"This was a regional event. There were folks traveling here from around North Carolina South Carolina, Georgia and other parts of the country," Washington said.
A cluster of 12 cases has been identified at the Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Living facility. Five people at the facility were involved with the event at the church. Of the 99 people infected with COVID-19, five are hospitalized in Mecklenburg County.
The church held convocation events from October 4 until October 11. County health officials say at least 1,000 people attended. Guidance put out by NCDHHS said places of worship should limit indoor capacity at 100 people per room and ensure enough social distancing. Masks are encouraged and choirs are not supposed to sing.
"Gatherings are really a critical opportunity for the virus to spread that can escalate really, really quickly, and so we do discourage any type of gathering in our community again it doesn’t matter the organization," Washington said.
As a result of the outbreak, the health department has asked the United House of Prayer For All People to not hold any in-person events at the church for 14 days. The county has been communicating daily with church leaders so they can conduct proper contact tracing for any people who attended the events.
"I'm encouraging everyone in our community, if you receive a phone call from one of our contact tracers please give us a call back, please answer the phone and please cooperate," said Washington.
A testing event at the church Thursday resulted in a high positivity rate out of 120 conducted tests. Dr. Washington said Mecklenburg County hopes to have all test results by Monday.
Anyone who attended is encouraged to get a COVID-19 test, and if experiencing any symptoms, to self-isolate to mitigate any potential spread of the virus.