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How one man spread coronavirus to nearly 100 people

Published Aug 6th, 2020 5:57PM EDT

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  • The novel coronavirus spreads with ease in large groups of people who don’t practice social distancing and who don’t wear face masks.
  • The latest example comes from Ohio officials who said a single man attending a church service infected 53 other worshipers, who then in turn infected other people as well.
  • Nearly 100 COVID-19 cases were traced back to this one individual.

We’re more than six months into the pandemic and some people still have a tough time understanding how terrifyingly easy it is to spread the virus. That’s why social distancing is still required and why face masks should be used at all times when in the presence of other people. Add to that good hand hygiene, and you’ve done all the simple things you can do to limit the spread of the illness.

It may be a few more years until we can return to some sense of normalcy, but now is not the time to try to go back to living a normal life. We’ve seen several examples of how a single COVID-19-positive person infected so many other people, and the latest one involves churchgoers. A 56-year-old man in Ohio attended the same service as 53 other people in mid-June. He was ultimately responsible for infecting nearly 100 people, as the churchgoers brought the virus back to their families.

“It spread like wildfire, wildfire. Very, very scary,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a briefing on Tuesday, CNN reports. “We know that our faith-based leaders want nothing more than to protect those who come to worship.”

He continued, “It is vital that, any time people gather together, everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and while indoors, making sure there is good ventilation and airflow.”

DeWine issued a face mask mandate for all people ages 10 and older on July 22nd, a month after the spread at the church. On Wednesday, he ordered children in schools to wear masks as well, with a few exceptions.

Coronavirus Ohio Church Case
Coronavirus spread study: A single man infected nearly 100 people after going to church. Image source: Ohio Department of Health via WLWT

Ohio authorities offered the infographic above that shows how the virus spread from that one man who had COVID-19. 53 people were infected at the church, and 18 of them then spread it to at least one other person. In one case, a 34-year-old man passed the illness to his 31-year-old wife and their four children aged 1 to 11.

The 56-year-old spreader also gave COVID-19 to his wife and two children. In total, 91 people were infected by a single person because of his carelessness.

State officials did not say how many people at the church had been wearing masks, if any. Nor did they say how severe the 91 cases were. More than 96,300 have been infected in Ohio as of Thursday morning, and 3,605 people in the state have died of COVID-19 so far.

DeWine shared additional examples of COVID-19 community spread on Twitter:

Religious events have been responsible for COVID-19 outbreaks in the past few months. One of Korea’s first major outbreaks came from one such occasion. Officials in California informed 180 people who attended the same service on Mother’s Day that they had been exposed to an infected person. More recently, a cult has been holding meetings in a tent in Illinois with total disregard for social distancing and face masks.

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.