A spokesman for the local health department told Today that a holiday in a small town in North Carolina led to 97 Kovid-19 cases by Tuesday morning, and that number is expected to increase in the coming days.
According to a statement by the Henderson County Department of Public Health and its communications manager Andrew Mundnack, the gathering took place over the weekend of December 5 at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, south of Ashville. As of December 17, the county had linked 75 cases to the incident, and the health department is still working to identify close contacts of attendees.
Of the 97 confirmed cases, all are among those present, Mundanak said. The health department is not aware of any deaths at present. However, “some cases” from the incident resulted in hospitalization, Mundanak said. The health department does not specify how many.
Asked if he expected this cluster to grow due to cases in close contact with attendees, Mundanak said, “We are seeing more cases every day.”
The First Baptist Church said in a December 15 statement that it was establishing a 30-day halt in relation to on-site worship, including “all ministry activities”, but did not specifically address the outbreak.
“The current wave of virus infection is so widespread that we should take care of the concern for the safety of our church, our community and especially those who are most vulnerable among us,” the statement said. “We’ll see the conditions in mid-January when and how we should proceed.”
When reached for comment by TODAY, the church said it would soon issue an updated statement, but declined to provide additional details about whether the incident was inside the home and if attendees were required to wear masks and It was necessary to practice social distance.
Henderson County’s current limit on indoor gatherings is 10 people, but it does not apply to “worship, religious, spiritual ceremonies,” according to North Carolina’s Department of Health.
“We are concerned with transmission overall in the community, when people are downing their guard, when they are with people close to them,” Mundanek said.
Ever since the coronovirus epidemic began, Henderson County has seen approximately 4,600 cases of Kovid-19 and 89 deaths. According to NBC News’ latest tally, North Carolina has seen about 864,000 cases so far, which is the 12th-highest state in the US, and has caused about 6,500 deaths.