UPDATE 4:25 p.m. July 16, 2020: Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says there are now more than 30 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases tied to the North Charleston Apostolic Church.

At least six more than 13 News Cassidy Wood initially reported July 15, 2020.

The church also responded to the concerns about a Fourth of July gathering raised by one member. A pastor says it was not a church-sanctioned event, but it was put on by members of the church and they followed Gov. Justice’s guidelines.

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A Kanawha County church has temporarily closed in response to an outbreak of COVID-19.

Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, told 13 News Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis at least 24 positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to the North Charleston Apostolic Church.

“At this time there are 24 people who tested positive within the church. But that affects three different counties so not all of those are within Kanawha County,” Young said. “We are assisting the other counties with their investigations. At this time they are going to be shut down for about three weeks for deep cleaning, and most of the congregation, at this point, will be in quarantine.”

Pastor Anthony Moss told 13 News Reporter Cassidy Wood the church has been following all guidelines since reopening June 1. He also says families in the congregation were spaced apart and temperature checks were taken at the door.

“I was notified from the health department on Thursday. The health department called me that day and notified me of a few testing positive. we immediately suspended services for two weeks just to protect the church to the best of our ability,” Moss said.

Moss was notified of the outbreak Thursday, July 9, 2020. He says he immediately closed the church doors and asked everyone in the congregation to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“I’ve quarantined myself just to be safe and I’ve instructed everyone in the church to quarantine themselves as well whether they are getting tested or not and so we’re all being very careful in regards to dealing with this.”

“I have a spreadsheet of every single person that came into that building, with a temperature check. There was not one single person who came in there with a high fever.

So when you look at that, you wonder ‘Okay, what else could you have done?’

I mean even when the Governor made the mandate last week with the masks, I put that into place. I even spoke about the hot spots and with this being vacation season, that it is important for us to identify those hot spots. And if you go to those hot spots, that’s up to you, but you must quarantine yourself from the church for 7-14 days. So with us doing all of that and having this uptick right here within the congregation, it’s disheartening to be quite honest with you.”

Anthony Moss, pastor of the North Charleston Apostolic Church in Charleston, WV

The church even opened a second service to minimize the number of people in the congregation.

“Church is a wonderful place to worship and that is your choice if you need that. We are in the middle of a COVID pandemic, and people need something to stand on. And if that’s your religion, just be safe about it. Be safe going to church. Wear your mask. Make sure you are keeping socially distant from other parties that are not with you. Churches really need to watch letting everybody in and out at the same time. Try to make that ingress and egress a little less crowded, as well as following all the guidelines. Churches are a great place to get hugs and kisses and, of course, fellowship, but it is just not a good time for that.”

Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of Kanawha-Charleston Health Department

The North Charleston Apostolic Church has also temporarily stopped virtual services for the safety of the church workers.