Over 70 members of a Sacramento, California, Pentecostal megachurch have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The Guardian reports:
A California megachurch has found itself at the center of a coronavirus outbreak after public health officials connected it to 71 cases , even as church leaders say they have been unfairly blamed for failing to take action to stop the spread among church members.
County health officials have put Bethany Slavic Missionary church, a Pentecostal house of worship in a suburb of Sacramento, at the heart of one of the largest outbreak clusters in the country.
The Sacramento Bee reports:
One church in Sacramento County is now the epicenter of a major outbreak of coronavirus, and frustrated county officials say church leaders are refusing to listen to their demands to stop fellowship meetings.
Seventy-one members of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church near Rancho Cordova or people associated with congregation members have been afflicted with the virus, county officials say, making this one of the larger outbreak clusters in the country. One parishioner has died, officials said, and the pastor is sick.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Commenting on the story, Dr. Peter Beilenson, the Sacramento County public health director, said:
According to a sermon from Sunday posted online, the church’s senior pastor, Adam Bondaruk, is hospitalized with the virus, as are two other pastors, who were described as “critically ill” by an unidentified pastor in the video.
One of the church members who contracted the virus, a substitute teacher who worked at Sutterville Elementary School, died three days later…
It’s outrageous that this is happening. Obviously there is freedom of religion, but when it’s impacting public health as this is, we have to enforce social distancing.
They’ve basically told us to leave them alone. This is extremely irresponsible and dangerous for the community.
This is a very serious public health matter.
Responding to claims from church officials that they were being treated unfairly, Sacramento County’s health officials issued the following statement Friday:
While we know that the church as a whole has ceased to meet and the leadership is hosting online services, we have been told by multiple sources that there are groups that continue to meet in homes, despite the public health order to not gather with anyone outside of household members. These gatherings have been directly linked to the clusters of cases in the community.
According to reports, last year church members participated in protests at the state Capitol against a bill that strengthened California’s vaccination laws.
Bottom line: Over 70 members of a Sacramento, California, Pentecostal megachurch have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in “one of the largest outbreak clusters in the country.”