Since the end of the lockdown, the US has been experiencing a wave of new coronavirus cases in nearly all states with Florida being the worst-hit. In the past week, the country has set a new record every single day. The worsening conditions of the pandemic are likely to impact future decisions including those of reopening businesses in the future.
Amidst the new cases of coronavirus, the medical community has noted the emergence of new hotspots for the infection. For instance, last week, the Miami Dade Police Department deemed parties as a major contributor to the crisis.
Now, recent reports have linked a big number of infections to places of worship. A few weeks prior to the easing of restrictions, many of the government officials including the president of the US, Donald Trump insisted on reopening churches.
Churches were a major source of coronavirus transmission even before the introduction of strict restrictions. This is because people gather in churches or other places of worship in crowds. Usually, social distancing is impossible due to a lack of space.
Therefore, gatherings of more than ten people were banned in many states of the US. The decision got a lot of backlash from churches, one of which even filed a lawsuit.
Due to congregational praying and large church services, there have been a lot of new coronavirus cases. In fact, back in the early weeks of May, nearly four hundred were put n quarantine after attending mother’s day church service in California.
Now, more and more states are reporting new coronavirus cases associated with large church sermons and other religious activities. New infections are diagnosed not only after attending Sunday sermons at churches but even from joining youth camps specifically in Missouri and Colorado.
In addition to the attendees, many pastors along with their families as well as ushers and other workers have also tested positive for coronavirus infection.
Last week, a young seventeen-year-old girl lost her life after developing severe coronavirus symptoms. According to experts working on the case, the teenager contracted the virus from attending a church gathering for children with had over one hundred participants.
Secondly, fifty people also tested positive after attending a church sermon. In the sermon, the pastor had reportedly told people that they can now safely hug each other.
Over six hundred new coronavirus cases have been linked to over forty churches by tracing teams. The number has increased significantly especially since the majority of the states reopened in the past month.
More and more Americans are going back to their ‘normal’ lives and attending church service more often. The largest coronavirus outbreak related to churches has occurred in northeastern Oregon from a local Pentecostal church.
According to George Murdock, who is a county commissioner in the state, handling places of worship during the pandemic has been difficult. “There’s a very fine line between protecting the health and safety of people, and protecting the right to worship,” he said.
Since the starting of the pandemic, many places of worship including mosques, synagogues, temples, and churches have been giving sermons online. However, putting restrictions on such places has indeed been difficult.
In May, the matter became even more controversial after being politicized by President Donald Trump, who even threatened to overrule any restrictions on churches by state governors.
However, the increase in new coronavirus cases in the past few weeks may pave the way for restrictions on churches once again. With the worsening conditions of the pandemic, it may not even be possible to worship together in a ‘safe’ way soon.