Thanks to a mid-pandemic church event, a North Carolina town is being forced to worry about a spike in wholly avoidable COVID-19 cases during an already stressful holiday season. According to NBC News, a "holiday celebration" at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville has now led to at least 97 cases as of Tuesday. That number, however, is expected to rise in the coming days.
In a statement last week, the Henderson County Department of Public Health confirmed that many attendees had tested positive "as a result of the event." The state's Department of Health and Human Services calls events of this nature "clusters," which they define as a minimum of five cases within a 14-day period, but I personally prefer the more to-the-point descriptor of "superspreader."
A health department rep told NBC that all of the confirmed 97 cases are among attendees of the Big Dumb Gathering. Some cases, the rep added, have indeed landed people in the hospital. A 30-day halt on in-person “worship” has now been implemented by the church in question.
And if you're looking for an answer as to why totally unnecessary shit like this keeps happening 10 months into the pandemic, a key factor here is that "places of worship" or whatever are often treated as being exempt from regional COVID-19 safety guidelines. To be clear, however, one can't simply pray away a pandemic. Furthermore, adherence to a higher power doesn't magically make you immune. Do better.