75 COVID-19 cases linked to North Carolina church musical

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MARLIN LEVISON * mlevison@startribune.com Assign. #20010498A- December 12, 2009] GENERAL INFORMATION: The American Swedish Institute performed the Lucia Celebration of the Christmas season with a choral offering at Augustana Lutheran Church in downtown

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At least seventy-five COVID-19 cases have been traced back to a holiday event held in Hendersonville, North Carolina, according to the Henderson County Health Department.

The Christmas musical event at First Baptist Church took place over the December 5 weekend with a packed congregation of maskless attendees and choir members, who were singing shoulder to shoulder, witnesses told the Asheville Citizen Times.

“To date, the Health Department has identified 75 individuals who have tested positive as a result of the event,” the health department’s press release noted on Thursday. “The Health Department is working to identify any additional close contacts of these individuals.”

The outbreak is the latest “COVID-19 cluster” involving an event at a place of worship in the Tar Heel State. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported a massive outbreak from a weekend celebration between Oct. 4-11 at United House of Prayer in Charlotte. To date, NCHHS said they’ve identified at least 213 cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths among the attendees and close contacts from the event that welcomed over 1,000 people from the Carolinas and neighboring states.

One of the exemptions tied to Gov. Roy Cooper’s modified stay-at-home order allows people to attend functions at places of worship in the state. As it stands currently, the limit on mass gatherings is a maximum capacity of 10 people.

North Carolina is seeing a rise in Coronavirus cases with 5,786 new cases on Thursday. Up more than 500 from Wednesday’s total of 5,273. All but three of the state’s 100 counties are at a “critical” level as Health Dept. officials are starting to measure totals related to Thanksgiving gatherings. As a whole, over 723,000 cases and at least 10,963 deaths have been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Carolinas over the past ten months. An average rate of 2,467 cases and 57 deaths per day.