Virus outbreak grows to 28 cases at West Virginia church
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A coronavirus outbreak at a West Virginia church has grown to 28 cases, Gov. Jim Justice said Monday.
The outbreak that occurred last week at the Graystone Baptist Church in Lewisburg has led to additional available testing for the public in Greenbrier County.
Justice said during his daily news conference that the National Guard conducted decontamination efforts at the church Sunday. The governor said the outbreak was close to his Lewisburg home.
“This could be your community tomorrow,” Justice said. “This could be your church tomorrow. This could be your family tomorrow.”
The church said the source of the outbreak is unknown.
“Our hearts are heavy during this time,” the statement said. “We love our brothers and sisters and would in no way put anyone in harm intentionally.”
The church had made previous services available for online viewing. It has closed for two weeks and canceled Sunday services. In a statement posted on Facebook, the church said it adhered to mandated precautions, including social distancing and the availability of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to churchgoers.
It marked the fifth virus outbreak involving a West Virginia church. Similar church outbreaks have occurred in Boone, Hampshire, Jefferson and Marshall counties.
At least 88 people in West Virginia have died from the virus and about 2,300 have tested positive, state health data shows.
The state has consistently met the goal Justice set for reopening by keeping the positive test rate under 3% for three consecutive days. The current rate is under 2%. Justice had loosened a previous goal of having the number of cases decline for 14 days.
Justice has already allowed restaurants and retailers to resume business. Fairs and festivals can begin again July 1 and nursing homes can accept visitors starting Wednesday.
Next week, youth sports games with spectators can resume along with outdoor sporting events and equestrian events with spectators.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. but for others, especiall older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.