Nearly 70 coronavirus cases tied to North Carolina church event

Nearly 70 new coronavirus cases in one North Carolina county have been “potentially connected” with convocation events hosted by a local church. There have been at least four hospitalizations and two deaths among the COVID-19 cluster, according to the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

The events that allegedly spurred the outbreak were hosted by the United House of Prayer for All People between Oct. 4 and 11. Six of the 68 cases occurred in residents of Madison Saints Paradise South Independent Living in Charlotte, and as a result, the center has tested all residents for COVID-19, according to health officials.

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The health department said it has reached out to over 90 contacts of cases and called several health agencies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to monitor for potential cases connected to these events. Officials also urged residents who received a message from a contact tracer to call the hotline at 980-314-9401.

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“Public Health advises anyone who attended events at the church Oct. 4-Oct. 11 or who have been in contact with someone who attended events at the church on the dates mentioned above get tested for COVID-19,” the health department said in a news release posted Wednesday.

Officials also announced a partnership with StarMed Health that will provide no-cost, drive-thru COVID-19 testing on Thursday and Friday.

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This is the second time in recent weeks Mecklenburg County residents are being warned about a local coronavirus cluster. Earlier this month, people who attended the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s “Mecktoberfest” held from Sept. 25 to 27 were warned about potential COVID-19 exposure.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris later said two individuals who tested positive had attended the event.