Greater than 40 individuals examined constructive after Christmas providers at a church in Massachusetts.
Genesis Community Church outside of Boston felt they had the right security in place for their Christmas services: an RSVP in case contact tracing is required, capacity limited, and masks required.
But it wasn’t enough. More than 40 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in cases believed to be related to these gatherings.
The House of Worship in Woburn, Massachusetts held a total of four Christmas parties on December 23rd and 24th. Its senior pastor, Michael Davis, who refused to be interviewed, said in a series of emails that those who wanted attendance were required to essentially make reservations.
This enabled the Church “to keep a close and complete track of all contacts who were in the building,” Davis said. “The average attendance at each meeting was 105 per service, which is 35 percent of our building occupancy.”
But he knows at least 44 people who have been on these services and tested positive. Tara Vocino, 32, a local photographer, is one of them. She said she was tested on December 29th and got her positive result two days later.
“It feels like I have a knife in my mouth and I’ve lost all sense of taste and smell,” said Ms. Vocino, adding that she felt so exhausted that she slept “about 16 hours a day”.
She said she attended one of the services on December 23, was in the front row of the church, and was wearing a mask.
“When I saw the outbreak happened, I went out and got tested,” she added.
Ms. Vocino, who lives with her parents and suffers from asthma, said: “I’ve been in a room for the last few days and use a separate bathroom.”
Mr Davis said he also tested positive but is “almost back to health”.
He added that the Church is working “closely” with the Woburn Board of Health to help the agency with contact tracing. Mr Davis said that within 24 hours of hearing about five cases, church officials contacted the health department.
Neither the health department nor the mayor of Woburn responded to numerous calls and emails.
Susan Beachy contributed to the research.