2 dead from COVID-19 cases tied to N Carolina church event

October 21, 2020 GMT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A COVID-19 outbreak linked to a multi-day church event in North Carolina has left at least two people dead, health officials said Wednesday.

Mecklenburg County authorities said there are now 68 cases since the local health department initially reported the outbreak on Saturday, The Charlotte Observer reported. That was one week after the conclusion of the Oct. 4-11 event at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte.

The county said at least four people have been hospitalized.


Officials said the county will host a no-cost, drive-thru testing event at a health department site on Thursday and Friday near the church. United House of Prayer leaders have not agreed to conduct testing on site, Mecklenburg health officials told county commissioners Tuesday.

Deputy Health Director Raynard Washington said he has been in daily contact with the pastor of the church. He said the church has encouraged members to get tested.

County officials also have notified other local health departments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to monitor for cases connected to the church events.

At least six people who live at Madison Saints Paradise Independent Living have confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the county. At least four of those people attended events at the church, Washington told reporters Wednesday evening. And one of the people who has died was connected to that cluster at Madison Saints Paradise Independent Living, Washington said.

Washington said he believes at least 1,000 people attended events at the church, based on videos he saw. Facebook posts from people who said they attended convocation events at the church appear to show that some people traveled to Charlotte from as far as Atlanta and Virginia.

The county offered testing Sunday after announcing the first nine cases connected to the event. There were 182 people who were tested at that testing event on Sunday and have received their testing results, Washington said.