CDC Says COVID-19 Spreads Easily Among Groups, Churches
As state health officials report the lowest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Georgia since April 8, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions against gathering in large groups because of the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
A gathering of 92 people in a small church led to 35 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, the CDC said Tuesday, and a church in northeast Georgia that returned to in-person services at the end of April closed again last week for "the foreseeable future" after several families contracted the virus, church representative Joan Lewis told The Christian Post on Monday.
#COVID19 @GaDPH Status Report: as of the 1 p.m. update on 5/19, there have been 38,721 total confirmed cases, 986 people currently hospitalized and 1,664 deaths in Georgia. 378,156 tests have been conducted. The link below will give more information.https://t.co/T2UVqrxCRo pic.twitter.com/rRDFL7d1Nl— Georgia EM&HS (@GeorgiaEMA) May 19, 2020
Two of the parishioners in an Arkansas church were symptomatic when they gathered in March, the CDC said. Through contact tracing, an additional 26 confirmed cases were identified in the community.
"This outbreak highlights the potential for widespread transmission of COVID-19 during in-person, faith-based events," the CDC said.
Gov. Brian Kemp's order allowed churches to reopen, as long as congregants observe social distancing.
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At 986 COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized on Tuesday, May 19, Georgia has seen an approximate 12% decrease over the last week with 1,125 patients hospitalized on May 12, and a 34% decrease from 1,500 patients hospitalized on May 1, Kemp's office said in a Tuesday press release.
"Our hospitalization numbers continue to show encouraging signs in our fight against COVID-19, but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat this virus," Kemp said. "I continue to ask Georgians to practice social distancing, follow the advice of public health officials, and protect the elderly and medically fragile."
Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Reverend Robert C. Wright said last month he and other clergy were still in discussion about the right time to reopen churches for worship.
"We are in a perilous time in regard to our battle to defeat the Coronavirus pandemic and any action that we take will be predicated on protecting the safety and health of our Diocesan family,” Wright said last month. “Our love for each other is our prime directive.”