Close to 100 people contracted the coronavirus in Ohio after one person who had the virus attended a church service and spread it to dozens others.
As a warning to religious institutions in the state, Gov. Mike DeWine tweeted a graphic from the Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday to show how the 56-year-old churchgoer essentially infected 91 people.
Fifty-three people who attended the church service fell ill, and 18 of them then gave it to at least one other person, the graphic showed.
The service took place June 14, The Kansas City Star reported. By July 4, a total of 91 people ranging from ages one to 67 across four Ohio counties had tested positive for COVID-19, all stemmed from that one case, the newspaper said.
“It is vital that to control the spread of the virus that any time people gather together, including for religious services, that everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and also while indoors, making sure there is good ventilation and airflow,” he said, according to The Kansas City Star.
It is not clear whether anyone at the church service wore masks or practiced social distancing. Ohio’s mandatory face-mask only came into effect on July 23.
Ohio has a resurgence in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, it has recorded more than 96,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 3,600 deaths.
In late May, President Donald Trump declared religious institutions “essential” services and told state governors to let them start admitting people again.
But religious services have been identified as situations where the coronavirus can spread like wildfire.
Experts have warned that loud talking and singing could spread the coronavirus further than six feet. When people give exhalations that require more energy, the droplets they emit can travel further. Some research has also suggested that louder speech produces more droplets.
“It’s an ideal setting for transmission,” Carlos del Rio, an infectious-disease expert at Emory University, told The New York Times, referring to church services. “You have a lot of people in a closed space. And they’re speaking loudly, they’re singing. All those things are exactly what you don’t want.”
A number of churches have caught headlines after large chunks of their parishioners caught the coronavirus.
- In March, 35 people at a church in Arkansas caught COVID-19 after attending a service. Three of them later died of the virus.
- In May, 107 people tested positive for coronavirus after attending a church service in Frankfurt, Germany.
- In June, 236 people in Oregon got the coronavirus after a church held multiple services during lockdown.
- During the early months of the pandemic, a secretive doomsday church in South Korea was accused of accelerating the outbreak in the city of Daegu. The city is now suing the church for endangering lives.
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