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A single person exposed 180 people in a church to coronavirus

Published May 18th, 2020 2:53PM EDT
Coronavirus California
Image: Jesus Merida/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

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  • 180 people were exposed to the novel coronavirus during a church service on Mother’s Day.
  • The infected person’s COVID-19 test result returned positive a day later, and all of the contacts were notified of their exposure.
  • The incident further underscores the importance of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, especially in areas where stay-at-home orders are still in place.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The novel coronavirus is far from being contained, and the more time you spend outside of your home, the higher the risk of getting COVID-19. That’s especially true if you go into closed spaces where social distancing measures aren’t possible. The latest example comes from an unidentified church in California, where a single participant who was diagnosed after the service ended exposed 180 other people to the virus.

Recent studies have shown how easy it is to spread the virus in a closed setting. Researchers from China traced COVID-19 cases from three separate families to the same restaurant where the three groups spent time together. An asymptomatic coronavirus patient is believed to have spread the virus to the other two families.

The CDC published a similar study that looked at the members of a choir in Washington state. A single COVID-19 patient who was undiagnosed at the time of the meeting spread the disease to as many as 52 other people from a group of 61 singers who attended the same practice for less than three hours.

The California resident received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis a day after the church service that he or she attended on Mother’s Day. That person is now in isolation at home, CNN reports. The 180 people who participated in the service have been notified of the exposure and received instructions to quarantine themselves.

Butte County Public Health’s exposure announcement reminded people that gatherings of any size have been disallowed by the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order.

“Despite the Governor’s order, the organization chose to open its doors, which resulted in exposing the entire congregation to COVID-19,” the release reads. “This decision comes at a cost of many hours and a financial burden to respond effectively to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. Such decisions can place great risk on the County’s ability to continue opening at a faster rate than the State.”

“Moving too quickly through the reopening process can cause a major setback and could require us to revert back to more restrictive measures,” Director of Butte County Public Health Danette York said in a statement. “We implore everyone to follow the State order and our reopening plan to help combat the potential spread of COVID-19.”

Considering the exposure occurred on May 10th, some of the people who attended the service with the COVID-19 patient may already be exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, though some of them may be asymptomatic. Whatever the case, it’s too early to know how many of them were infected, but authorities should have a clear picture in the coming weeks.

As of Monday afternoon, California has reported more than 80,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 3,300 deaths.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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