By JON HAWORTH, ABC News
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — At least two people are dead, four hospitalized and at least 68 positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed following a weeklong convocation event at a church in North Carolina.
The week of events took place at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the numbers include attendees and close contacts of people who attended the services at the church. Authorities and health officials have said they are still trying to track down 94 more close contacts of the people who tested positive.
Health officials in Mecklenburg County have said they have contacted local health departments in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to warn them of possible cases tied to the events.
“We are aware that there were convocation activities throughout the week,” the church said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “Following initial case investigations, it was determined that the early cases were most likely connected to the larger events held on Saturday and Sunday. As the case count has grown, we are aware of additional cases likely connected to smaller events that occurred during the week. We are currently attempting to trace contacts for all cases who participated in any of the activities. Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend anyone who participated in any of these events to closely monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested as soon as possible.”
One of the people who died was a resident at Madison Saints Paradise Independent Living and at least six of the people who tested positive live at the same assisted living facility in Charlotte, North Carolina
Meanwhile, Dr. Raynard Washington, deputy health director of Mecklenburg County, has warned those who attended the church events to not attend any further gatherings.
“I have advised them to not have any gatherings in the coming weeks because we don’t know how far the spread has gone at this point, and it is not a good idea to reconvene those same groups of people,” said Washington.
One man, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News’ affiliate station WSOC-TV in Charlotte that he didn’t feel comfortable going to the event.
“I decided because of health reasons in my family, I wasn’t going there,” he said. “It should have never been held. It was just too many people.”
Vilma Leake, who has been on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners since 2008 and attends the United House of Prayer for All People, called on a leader of the West Charlotte House of Worship to address the board of commissioners.
“We are very serious about bending the curve and leveling that out. We are very serious about the health of those who worship with us. We just appreciate all concern and are going to continue to take this matter under the strictest concern,” the church leader said.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.