Coronavirus outbreak reported at Texas megachurch whose pastor attended White House ‘superspreader’ event

Gateway Church is in its ninth week of on-site services 

Independent Staff
Friday 16 October 2020 20:33 BST
(AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple coronavirus cases broke out this week at a Texas megachurch whose pastor attended last month’s “superspreader” Rose Garden ceremony.

The Gateway Church’s spokesman, Lawrence Swicegood, toldThe Independent that there have been a handful of cases among the church’s more than 1,000 part-time and full-time employees. He said the cases were not related to Senior Pastor Robert Morris’s attendance of the Rose Garden ceremony, where Judge Amy Coney Barrett was formally nominated to the Supreme Court

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Covid-positive employees had come into contact with Pastor Morris. 

The 26 September event at the White House Rose Garden was dubbed a “superspreader” event after nearly a dozen attendees, including US lawmakers, White House staff, and President Donald Trump and the first lady tested positive for Covid-19.

The Gateway Church, located in Southlake, Texas, is in its ninth week of on-site services following a hiatus over the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Swicegood told The Independent that the church’s main auditorium is allowing less than half of its usual 4,100 maximum seating capacity. 

Mr Morris resumed preaching to socially distanced crowds earlier this month. Mr Swicegood said the pastor had tested negative twice since attending the Rose Garden ceremony.

“Gateway Church and and all of its staff have continued to be vigilant in following Covid guidelines as issued by Texas governor Greg Abbott and Covid task Force as they pertain to churches,” Mr Swicegood said. 

“There’s no Covid in heaven, no sorrow, no tears, no pain, no sickness, no disease, no death. None of that’s there!” Mr Morris tweeted on Wednesday. “Everything you love is there. Everything you enjoy on Earth is in Heaven, but it’s a thousand times better!”

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