CDC: Arkansas coronavirus outbreak linked to church services
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.