Thirty-eight percent of people who attended events at an Arkansas church over a six-day period in March contracted COVID-19, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of the 92 people who attended events at a rural Arkansas church between March 6 and March 11, 35 contracted COVID-19, and three died, the CDC said.
An additional 26 cases, including one death, were confirmed among community members who said they had contact with church attendees.
The new report highlights the potential for widespread transmission at public gatherings in enclosed spaces and within communities, its authors wrote.
“Faith-based organizations that are operating or planning to resume in-person operations, including regular services, funerals or other events, should be aware of the potential for high rates of transmission of [COVID-19],” they added.
The pastor of the church, which was not named, closed it indefinitely on March 12 after he and his wife developed a fever and a cough, and learned of similar symptoms among members of the congregation.
The CDC report indicates the pastor and his wife were likely infected by COVID-19 while attending church events the previous week, including one for children that spanned three days. Two individuals attended the children’s event while experiencing symptoms and are thought to be the primary sources of infection at the church.
The pastor might have exposed others to the virus during a Bible study event held March 11, according to the report. The pastor was not showing COVID-19 symptoms when he attended the Bible study, according to the report.