CDC report details outbreak at Arkansas church

CDC report details outbreak at Arkansas church

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report shows just how quickly COVID-19 can spread during large gatherings.

The report details an outbreak at a rural, unnamed Arkansas church.

The outbreak happened in early March, before the state's first official case was ever diagnosed.

The CDC say two people infected with COVID-19 attended church services and spread the virus to more than 30 other congregants, including the pastor and his wife.

The report says three people died and as many as 92 people may have been exposed.

Despite concerns raised in the report, President Trump called on churches to reopen this weekend.

"I am identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques, as essential places that provide essential services," the president said.

Many churches in the Memphis area stayed closed, once again streaming their Sunday services online.

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., the presiding Bishop of COGIC, released a statement to pastors this weekend, urging them to practice safety and be wise when deciding whether to reopen.

"Stated plainly, we firmly believe that even though stay-at-home orders are being lifted, the COGIC churches should not be among the first churches to reopen," said Blake. "The reopening of our COGIC churches should not begin at the present time and should only be done when it is deemed safe to do so. COGIC pastors and members should follow evidence based guidelines from bodies such as the CDC, NIAID, state and local departments of health, and the COVID-19 Advisory panel of the COGIC and wait until it is safe to hold services."

The CDC says if churches do start holding in-person services soon, they should follow certain guidelines, including social distancing and encouraging parishioners to wear face coverings.

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