At least 44 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after attending church services over Christmas at a church in Massachusetts.
The church held two gatherings on 23rd December and another two on Christmas Eve at 5 and then 7pm, which were also available to watch online.
Congregation members who came in person had to book a seat online, with the booking service suggesting full capacity would have been about 125 people. One service was fully booked and the other three gatherings were between 73-94 per cent full. The worship band was socially distanced, face masks were required and visitors were only allowed to sit with their household.
The following two Sundays the church only broadcast their services online.
Pastor Michael Davis told WBZ-TV: “We are deeply saddened to learn that people within GENESIS tested positive for Covid-19 and we are doing all we can to make sure this does not spread any further. Every individual who attended Christmas Eve at GENESIS has been contacted and made aware of the situation as well as being encouraged, whether symptomatic or not, to get tested for Covid-19.”
He added that the average attendance was 105 people per service, which was 35% of the building’s normal occupancy. He added that each service lasted an hour and a cleaning occurred in between them.
“Social distancing was encouraged and practiced, hand sanitising stations were available throughout the facility, and we had an entire team of volunteers dedicated to cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout both evenings, especially between services. People not in family units were seated six feet apart and the distance from the front row to our stage is 16 feet per state requirements,” Davis said.
After five positive cases, Davis said they reached out to the entire church community.