Breaking News
More () »

Charlotte church linked to nearly 200 COVID-19 cases set to reopen

Mecklenburg County health officials have now confirmed 181 cases, six deaths and at least 10 hospitalizations linked to the United House of Prayer For All People.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Health officials in Mecklenburg County have now confirmed 181 cases of COVID-19, six deaths and at least 10 hospitalizations to an outbreak at the United House of Prayer For All People in north Charlotte. 

Of those 181 cases, 172 are Mecklenburg County residents, four are in Iredell County and Gaston County, and one person lives in Cabarrus County. The health department has attempted to contact at least 262 close contacts of those confirmed cases. Of the six deaths, five were in Mecklenburg County and one was in Gaston County.

More than 1,000 people attended the week-long services held at the north Charlotte church from October 4-11, many from other states. Mecklenburg County does not track cases they may be linked to the event for people who live out of state. 

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said Friday the initial transmission from the convocation event has slowed. Most of the new cases the county has seen recently are secondary transmissions.

County health leaders said they have been working collaboratively with national leaders at the United House of Prayer for All People. Over the last week, health leaders have visited all of the UHOP locations in the Charlotte area and talked to church leaders about health and safety protocols, especially as it relates to capacity.  According to health officials, the church locations have been responsive and engaged. 

The Mecklenburg County Health Department sent an amended order to the church Friday which would allow all UHOP locations to reopen immediately with certain regulations in place to limit the capacity of gatherings.

The location on Beatties Ford Road is the church's main campus. It was originally ordered to remain closed until November 5, but Harris said Friday that location is allowed to reopen as long as it adheres to proper guidelines regarding capacity.

During a Friday afternoon news conference, Mecklenburg County health director Gibbie Harris said the extent of the outbreak is just one of the reasons the county originally ordered United House of Prayer to shut the doors of all of its Mecklenburg County locations.

She said there was also an inability to manage the outbreak due to misinformation and lack of cooperation.

Over the last few days, she said United House of Prayers' national leaders agreed to cooperate and grant Harris' staff access to church properties this week.

"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 said.

She said following those visits, the county will allow the church to hold gatherings provided they limit capacity and have COVID-19 safety measures in place.

The church sent a news release Friday afternoon that said it had reached an agreement with Mecklenburg County public health officials to reopen all UHP churches in the county effective immediately.  

Following the outbreak, church leaders also declined an invitation to host testing sites at the church. 

RELATED: United House of Prayer pastors in talks with county after order to close for 2 weeks

Earlier this week, 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. 

"If you're gathered with anyone who does not live in your household you are at risk, and they are too," Governor Roy Cooper said.

RELATED: 'It's almost like a betrayal' | Congregation says Charlotte church not taking COVID seriously

RELATED: Charlotte church prohibited from holding in-person gatherings after more than 120 COVID-19 cases linked to convocation event

Before You Leave, Check This Out