County Announces COVID-19 Outbreak at Awaken Church

County Announces COVID-19 Outbreak at Awaken Church
County Announces COVID-19 Outbreak at Awaken Church

Public health officials on Saturday announced an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Awaken Church in Kearny Mesa, and asked everyone who attended services there between Nov.15 and Nov.22 to self-quarantine for 14 days from attendance.

The announcement came as the county released another daily record of positive COVID-19 cases, with 1,859 infected, compared to the previous record of 1802 a day earlier. There was also an additional death reported on Saturday.

County officials said in a statement they were taking the unusual step of publicly identifying the site of a COVID-19 outbreak because county contact trackers had not been able to reach everyone who might have been exposed.

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Awaken Church, on Balboa Avenue, just east of Interstate 805, had been notified earlier in the week of the outbreak, defined as at least three laboratory-confirmed cases in people from different households who visited the same location within two weeks of disease onset.

Anyone exposed in Awaken Church services should also be screened for COVID-19, according to the announcement. County officials did not say how many cases were linked to the services.

There were 86 active community outbreaks in San Diego County as of Saturday. Of those 16 were new outbreaks. The county has avoided specifying the places, identifying them by categories such as restaurants or supermarkets.

The Awaken Church has caused concern to county public health officials this summer because it was holding large gatherings where few people were wearing masks. He continued to perform these services despite being cited for violating the county health order.

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Awaken Church received a cease-and-desist order from the county on July 17, after holding services inside in defiance of a public health order prohibiting such gatherings.

Houses of worship have gone to court to challenge state public health orders restricting in-person religious services to slow the spread of COVID-19, with rulings in California in May and Nevada in July siding with governors.

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three liberal-minded justices disagreeing, to ban restrictions on religious services that had been imposed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in New York.

Awaken Church could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Saturday’s new positive COVID-19 cases accounted for 14 percent of the total tests performed.

County officials also reported 636 COVID-19 hospitalizations, the most reported in a day since at least the end of October and an increase of 56 from the number reported on Friday.

The COVID-19 population in intensive care also rose to 175 on Saturday, two more than on Friday. The county was using 72 percent of its capacity in the Intensive Care Unit.

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