CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The fallout continues after a local church held a super spreader event at the beginning of the month.
There are at least 143 positive coronavirus cases linked to convocation events at the United House of Prayer for All People. At least 5 people have died and 7 are hospitalized, county officials say some of them are on ventilators. It's led to outbreaks at 2 local senior living facilities.
The county has banned the church from holding any in-person event until November 5, but county officials say they have seen cases linked to other houses of worship too.
Earlier in the pandemic, a group of religious leaders signed a letter saying just because they can hold services, doesn't mean they should. With the super spreader event linked to the United House of Prayer, some local houses of worship are playing it safe.
For so many, religion is about gathering to worship or celebrate, and that's become difficult during the pandemic.
“It's really tough for communities who are so used to gathering to go this long without gathering. There are people who are just exhausted from it and want to just be with their community, and we get that,” said Rabbi Asher Knight with Temple Beth El.
Still, Temple Beth El in Charlotte is holding most services online in an effort to keep their congregants safe.
“The highest value in Jewish tradition is pikuach nefesh, the value of saving a soul and saving a life. And what we mean by that is that everything we should do should save people's lives. When gathering creates an opportunity that would potentially risk life to our people, to our staff, we have to be really cautious,” said Knight.
Large gatherings at the United House of Prayer for All People led to more than 140 positive coronavirus cases and at least 3 deaths. This super spreader event so extreme, the county is taking action to ban the church from holding any in-person services until November 5th, concerned the number of people impacted will only grow larger.
Mecklenburg county health director Gibbie Harris says they are seeing cases related to other religious gatherings too.
“The church environment isn't always one where people continue to wear the mask through the whole service or social distance. And any environment regardless of if it’s the church, a party, a family gathering, where you're not doing those things you're putting each other at risk,” said Harris.
Guidance put out by the NCDHHS says churches should limit in person, indoor gatherings to 100 people and ensure social distancing.