CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – As more and more people are out and about and returning to normal activities, many are also returning to indoor church services.
But now five churches across West Virginia are experiencing outbreaks. The worst case is in Greenbrier County where free testing is underway, and the National Guard was called out to the Graystone Baptist Church which has 28 positive cases.
“With this COVID-19 stuff, it absolutely is a mega-killer and mega-dangerous. What we have got to do, is we have got to continue to go to a knife-fight with a bazooka,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
State health officials are reminding churchgoers to wear face masks and keep socially distant. Churches are also advised to have clergy and singers stand behind plastic shields. As for the church in Greenbrier County with at least 28 positive cases, it is getting help, including deep cleaning.
“Provided additional testing in Greenbrier County, and a sanitization mission, as part of a rapid response to the issues in the county,” said Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard.
Health officials are advising churches to be creative, like one drive-in service for Easter Sunday in Kanawha County, or streaming services online.
“Health leaders say the church outbreaks just underscore the importance of wearing masks and following other guidelines. They say after the initial 52 positive church cases in the state, those people went out into the community and spread Covid-19 to at least 26 others,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.
While Graystone Baptist Church in Greenbrier County was identified, state leaders are not disclosing the names or exact locations of the other four churches with COVID-19 outbreaks, citing privacy concerns.