UKIAH (CBS SF) – At least three cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a livestreamed church service that took place in Mendocino County over Mother’s Day weekend, health officials said.
Officials with the Mendocino County Department of Public Health were notified about the case involving an elderly Ukiah Valley man on Friday night. Using contact tracing, officials found two Lake County residents who were close contacts of the man, who themselves were newly diagnosed with the virus on Saturday.
Investigators determined the source of the outbreak to be a church service with music that was livestreamed from an inland Mendocino County church on Mother’s Day. All three were at the venue and two participated in the event.
After initially declining to identify the house of worship due to privacy reasons, health officials said Monday that the outbreak was linked to the Assembly of God church in Redwood Valley after the church announced on social media that the pastor tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials urged anyone who has visited the church recently or has come into contact with participants in the livestream production to get tested.
One of the Lake County residents who tested positive for the coronavirus was hospitalized at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley on Saturday. Meanwhile, the other Lake County resident with COVID-19, along with the Mendocino County man who tested positive, are both in stable condition and in isolation at their respective homes.
The outbreak at the church comes as another Northern California church faces scrutiny after 180 people were exposed to the coronavirus during a Mother’s Day service held in defiance of the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order banning large gatherings.
Livestreaming of religious services has become much more popular during the coronavirus pandemic as large gatherings have been banned to slow the spread of the disease. Health officials stressed that organizations holding livestreamed events, particularly involving singing, should implement measures to reduce the risk. Officials suggested using plexiglass screens, having proper ventilation, and ensuring that singers are not positioned face to face, along with social distancing and wearing face coverings.