STRAWBERRY, Ala. (AP) — More than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus after attending a multi-day revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church, according to the congregation’s pastor.
“The whole church has got it, just about,” Al.com quoted pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall County as saying.
The pastor says the churchgoers, including himself, tested positive after the congregation held a series of religious services featuring a guest pastor over the course of several days last week.
Ross said the services were shut down by Friday after learning that one of the members who attended had tested positive for the virus. The member presented no symptoms, but got tested when several of his coworkers received positive tests, according to the pastor.
Over the weekend, dozens more fell ill, Ross said, adding: “I’ve got church members sick everywhere.”
“We knew what we were getting into,” he said. “We knew the possibilities.”
Ross said only two members’ cases were serious, and as of Sunday, nobody had been hospitalized, though many had reported having fevers, headaches and respiratory issues.
He said some social distancing measures were in place during the services, which were held multiple times a day, and most members skipped the events out of concern for the virus. Those that attended sat with their own families. Masks were not required, the newspaper reported.
“We let everybody do what they felt like. ... If you were comfortable shaking hands, you shook hands. If you didn’t, you didn’t,” the pastor said.
The church is located in a small community called Strawberry, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of Birmingham.