May 19, 2020 - Health

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.

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

Go deeper

24 hours ago - Health

Protests against police brutality threaten coronavirus response

Protesters in Philadelphia on June 1. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests against police brutality have prompted the closure of coronavirus test sites across the country, including in Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Illinois, Politico reports.

Why it matters: This adds to concerns that the protests themselves create an environment in which the virus can easily spread, particularly if and when protesters aren't wearing masks or social distancing.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Infectious disease experts doubt that the coronavirus will slow its spread during the summer, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

By the numbers: More than 105,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 458,000 Americans have recovered and over 17.3 million tests have been conducted.

48 mins ago - Technology

The slippery slope of protest surveillance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's call to treat antifa supporters like terrorists could be a green light for high-tech surveillance of dissidents.

Why it matters: It's unlikely the Trump administration can designate antifa as a terrorist group in any legally meaningful way, but the declaration gives law enforcement tacit approval to use a plethora of tech tools to monitor protesters and left-leaning activists.