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A protestor in Maryland. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

35 of the 92 people (38%) who attended services at a rural Arkansas church March 6–11 tested positive for the coronavirus, ultimately killing three, according to a case study released Tuesday by the CDC.

Why it matters: Places of worship continue to be a problem for controlling the widespread transmission of the coronavirus, especially as some churches and local government officials push to loosen restrictions on religious gatherings.

  • Contact tracing found that an additional 26 people were infected after interacting with attendees of the church, and one person from that group died.
  • Most of the cases were aged 19 and older.
  • Both the pastor and his wife developed coronavirus symptoms and closed the church indefinitely on March 12.

The big picture: Outside of public service announcements on hygiene and social distancing, the CDC has largely left guidance on whether to reopen places of worship to the states.

  • In Arkansas, the state banned indoor gatherings of more than 10 people, but exempted religious services.
  • Almost 200 people are being quarantined after a possible cluster in California was identified after people attended a church service on Mother's Day, the Los Angeles Times reports.
  • Kentucky and Kansas both had federal court rulings against their governors' orders to temporarily ban mass gatherings at religious services.

The bottom line: Even with care and caution, in-person congregations can become hotbeds for coronavirus outbreaks as some states begin to reopen public spaces and businesses.

Go deeper: Major coronavirus outbreaks around the world have been tied to religion

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Aug 26, 2020 - Health

Fauci says he was having surgery when CDC testing changes were approved

Anthony Fauci was in the operating room under general anesthesia last Thursday when the White House coronavirus task force approved the narrowing of CDC testing recommendations to exclude asymptomatic individuals, according to CNN's Sanjay Gupta.

Why it matters: Fauci, who had vocal cord surgery last week, told Gupta that he is "concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is."

Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

New coronavirus infections fell by almost 15% over the past week, continuing a steady downward trend.

Why it matters: The standard caveats still apply — progress can always fall apart, the U.S. is climbing down from a very high number of cases, and this is far from over. But this is undeniably good news. Things are getting better.