Coronavirus: One man attending Ohio church service led to infection of 91 others

Ohio is asking worshippers to wear masks and observe social distancing

Clea Skopeliti
Saturday 08 August 2020 14:41
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Governor DeWine said the state has tried to exempt places of worship from restrictions
Governor DeWine said the state has tried to exempt places of worship from restrictions

The governor of Ohio has asked churchgoers to wear face masks, after one person with coronavirus attending church led to the infection of 91 other people across five different counties in the state.

Posting a graphic showing the infection’s reach to his Facebook page, Ohio governor Mike DeWine explained how the virus spread from the church service on 14 June to 4 July.

“All it takes is one person to cause tremendous #COVID19 spread,” the governor wrote.

Mr DeWine underlined that while the case study stems from a church, it can take place anywhere.

“I continue to encourage everyone to wear masks and social distance whenever you gather – including at worship services,” he added.

At a news briefing on Tuesday where the alarming graphic was displayed, the governor said “it spread like wildfire”, and described it as “very, very scary”.

“We know that our faith-based leaders want nothing more than to protect those who come to worship. We want to provide our faith communities with all the information we can from doctors and health experts to arm them with the tools to conduct the services safely.”

He added that while the state has been careful to exempt religious services from coronavirus regulations, Ohio is now asking worshippers to wear masks in church.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health has declined to reveal the name of the church, citing the need to protect private health information.

She added that those who may have come into contact with infected people had been notified through contact-tracing efforts, NBC reported.

The graphic illustrates how widely one infected person can spread the coronavirus. Fifty-three people at the service became ill, and 18 of those went on to infect at least one other person.

All 91 developed symptoms of the virus, the governor said.

Mr DeWine also shared some recent examples of community transmission on Twitter earlier this week. He detailed cases where the virus has been passed between family and friends, including at a wedding and a bridal shower.

“None of us want to stay away from our families and of course, it’s natural to want to show affection when you see them,” Mr DeWine wrote on Twitter. ”But this virus [is] lurking. Please try to remember that you are showing love by protecting them.”

More than 96,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state.

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