As a part of my ongoing tracking of place of worship related outbreaks of COVID-19, I asked the Georgia Department of Public Health if the department logged the number of church related outbreaks. Public information representative Nancy Nydam told me, “As of today, there have been 49 COVID-19 church/place of worship outbreak investigations reported to DPH.” She added that as a result of those investigations, 517 cases have been reported as have 91 hospitalizations and 15 deaths.
As of today, GA has reported 241,702 cases and 4,795 deaths. Thus, in GA, church outbreaks have been a small fraction of total cases. However, these cases may be accelerating. There were 8 place of worship outbreaks from August 6-12 of the 110 outbreaks in Georgia during that time period.* As churches have come together in person, outbreaks have increased. The low total numbers may not be due to safety in church as much as because many churches were meeting online until recently.
As of August 18, 2020 in the U.S., I count 263 religious gatherings associated with at least 3,136 cases of COVID-19 and 43 deaths. My sense is that it is getting harder to keep up with them as churches are beginning to relax their restrictions.
*From the Coastal Health District of the GA Dept of Health website. There were 110 total from August 6-12, 2020. An outbreak is defined as 2 cases or more.
These outbreaks are occurring in settings where people are physically congregating and underscore the need for distancing and source control.
- Long-term care facilities 23
- Schools/school athletic teams 14
- Offices/workplaces 14
- Manufacturing facilities 13
- Prisons/jails 13
- Churches 8
- Restaurants 4
Outbreaks were also documented in hospitals/outpatient facilities, daycares and grocery stores.