Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases.

The virus has infiltrated Sunday services, church meetings and youth camps. More than 650 cases have been linked to reopened religious facilities.

 Pastor Ron Arbaugh of Calvary Chapel of San Antonio said that he did not know how the virus had spread in his church but that he regretted announcing after several weeks of resumed services that congregants could hug one another again. Credit...Scott Ball for The New York Times

By Kate Conger, Jack Healy and Lucy Tompkins

PENDLETON, Ore. — Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed.

The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.

Pastors and their families have tested positive, as have church ushers, front-door greeters and hundreds of churchgoers. In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor told congregants they could once again hug one another. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a youth party at her church.  Read more >>