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Man tests positive for COVID-19 after attending religious event; many churches turn to online services

Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 10:57 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Churches across the region are moving to stream services online to help with social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

One Richmond church sent out a notice to members after a man tested positive following a community gathering.

“Tough times never last but tough people do,” Dr. Lance Watson said.

Watson is the leader of St. Paul’s Baptist Church and he is one of many religious leaders in Central Virginia making the decision to cancel physical services amid COVID-19.

“We have shut down all three of our campuses except for essential staff,” Watson said.

Many houses of worship are moving to online streaming to keep worshipers safe.

“The stream that we shared was viewed by well over 16,000 people,” Watson said.

Watson says he’s talked to several religious leaders and all agree the change is necessary.

“Ultimately, the people are the church so to expose them needlessly to the danger and difficulty doesn’t seem responsible,” Watson said.

This comes after a man tested positive after attending a community revival at Cedar Street Baptist Church of God March 8-11. This event brought nearly 1,500 people together to hear Pastor Watson and others speak.

The man fell after the event was over and tested positive for COVID-19. Watson sent a note to those in his congregation alerting them of what was going on. Dr. Anthony Chandler Sr. of Cedar Street also sent out a notification to his congregation as well.

Letter to Cedar Street Baptist congregation.
Letter to Cedar Street Baptist congregation.(Pastor Chandler)

“Just being in the service with them was a relatively low-risk factor in terms of contracting the virus but it was due diligence on their part to figure out who had contact with the person,” Watson said.

Officials have not released where the man is from or if the illness was transmitted to anyone else.

Watson says those in a position of leadership must make sure they are looking out for those they serve.

“We have to trust God to take care of the institution of the church while we take care of people,” Watson said.

Cedar Street Baptist Church underwent a deep cleaning after learning the man tested positive.

State officials are working to contact those who were in close contact with the man.

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