NC holiday church service linked to nearly 100 coronavirus cases
Posted December 23, 2020 3:27 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2020 5:00 p.m. EST
The Henderson County Health Department announced on Dec.17 that a cluster with 75 coronavirus cases was traced back to a service at First Baptist Church of Hendersonville. Cases have continued to climb since that announcement.
The gathering took place on the weekend of December 5. The church moved their most recent services online, according to an announcement on their social media.
"In light of the rise of cases amongst our congregants, staff, and the community, we have made the decision to go all online for this Sunday, December 13, 2020. Please know that this was not something asked of us by the government, but a decision made so that we might be good neighbors to our community," the church posted on Instagram.
Photos on the church's Instagram page show mostly maskless crowds gathering together and singing indoors. Singing indoors, without a mask, poses a great risk of spreading coronavirus.
The state currently has a limit on indoor gatherings, but it does not apply to worship or religious gatherings. Health officials recommend faith leaders hold online gatherings for the holidays to limit community spread of the virus.
Religious gatherings accounted for the most coronavirus clusters out of all the clusters reported to the state aside from those reported in congregate living, schools and daycare settings.