People who attended the service have been notified about their exposure and received instructions from health officials to self-quarantine, the statement said. Officials are working to get testing for everyone who was in attendance.
“At this time, organizations that hold in-person services or gatherings are putting the health and safety of their congregations, the general public and our local ability to open up at great risk,” said Butte County Public Health Director Danette York, who implored everyone to do their part to adhere to mitigation efforts.
Butte County Public Health condemned the religious organization, which it did not name, saying its decision to open doors despite the governor’s order would cost health officials many hours and present a “financial burden” during the Covid-19 response.
“Moving too quickly through the reopening process can cause a major setback and could require us to revert back to more restrictive measures,” its statement said. “We implore everyone to follow the State order and our reopening plan to help combat the potential spread of Covid-19.”
Religion vs. public health
Disagreements over whether religious groups should be allowed to meet amid the pandemic have led to several legal showdowns between religious leaders and public officials, who have expressed concerns that religious services could exacerbate the issue.
In one case in Sacramento County last month, 71 people connected to a single church were later infected with the coronavirus.
“We don’t want indoor meetings to become hotspots for the virus and our health experts continue to warn that large groups sitting together for long periods of time are much more likely to cause the spread of Covid-19,” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said in a statement. “While our office disagrees with the decision, we will not appeal, but instead urge houses of worship and their leaders to voluntarily follow public health guidance to keep their members safe.”