Kentucky governor Andy Beshear urged last week for church services to be canceled statewide amid the coronavirus pandemic. A church in Murray went against the suggestion, and a visitor at Sunday’s service has now tested positive for COVID-19.
University Church of Christ in Murray advised its congregation, which included around 150 people Sunday, to self-quarantine for the next 10 days, it said in a since-deleted Facebook post. The person diagnosed with coronavirus is not from Murray, the church said.
Friday, the Calloway County Health Department announced it has its first coronavirus case in the county, which Murray is a part of.
The person who was diagnosed in Calloway County spent time with the church visitor, according to WPSD-TV. The infected woman works at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, the TV station reported.
The senior minister of the church, Charley Bazzell, said the church took extra precautions to prevent a problem during its service.
“We advised anyone who was not comfortable to come to stay at home and we especially urged our elderly to not get out,” Bazzell told the Murray Ledger & Times. “We abbreviated our service to about a 30-minute time frame.”
He also told the newspaper they took precautions with their communion to ensure no one touched the tray.
Beshear initially only suggested churches and community gatherings be canceled, but he has now banned all such events.
“We can’t be doing that anywhere,” Beshear said of gathering in groups. “All gatherings where people come together are closed.”
The Murray church is paying “a pretty heavy price” for holding the church services Sunday, Bazzell told WKMS. Many people commented on Facebook that services should not have been held.
“Right or wrong, people are going to determine and decide what they want to believe,” he told WKMS. “I don’t know If I could say anything that could make any difference. So I probably won’t even try at this time.”
Church services at University Church of Christ will be canceled through the end of March, the minister said.
Two of Kentucky’s first eight cases attended church together in Harrison County, Beshear said last week.
There are at least 47 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kentucky, according to the governor.