UPDATE: More than 25 positive COVID-19 cases reported at Greenbrier County Church


RONCEVERTE, WV (WVNS) — 6/15/2020 5:30 p.m. UPDATE: A church in Greenbrier County is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. Health Officer for the Greenbrier County Health Department, Dr. Bridgett Morrison, said as of Monday, June 15, 2020, more than 25 positive cases are confirmed.

“There’s been several outbreaks across the state and across the Nation. People are singing and they want to hug, it’s part of fellowship,” Dr. Morrison said. “But unfortunately, it’s just not safe. I’m not saying church is not safe. I’m saying that you need to be continuing to practice social distancing, continue to wear the masks, and if you’re having any symptoms at all, even if you discount them and thing they’re just allergies or just the cold, you need to stay home.”

Dr. Morrison said it appears one person traveled out of West Virginia, ultimately bringing the virus home with them and becoming the source of the outbreak. She added the church was cleaned and disinfected Sunday by the National Guard, and they are currently working to make contact with everyone in the congregation.

“The thing is that everyone is becoming more and more lax about not wearing their masks and not practicing social distancing,” Dr. Morrison said. “It’s summer and we haven’t had any cases for a long time here in this area until last week. And so, if everyone wears masks, it does cut down on the transmission.”

Of these positive cases, the Health Department reported one person is hospitalized, some are asymptomatic, and most are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

59News reached out to the Pastor of the church. He declined to comment.

RONCERVERTE, WV (WVNS) — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) confirmed five COVID-19 outbreaks at churches across the Mountain State. The most recent outbreak is at a church in Greenbrier County Church.

So far 17 cases of the virus were reported at Graystone Baptist Church in Ronceverte, according to the Greenbrier County Health Department. Governor Jim Justice immediately ordered the DHHR, West Virginia National Guard and the Greenbrier County Health Department to respond to the outbreak. The National Guard is currently on site to begin decontamination, and they will be on site tomorrow.

The church is currently closed for 14 days for environmental cleaning with the support from the National Guard.

“I want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear masks,” Gov. Justice said. “A lot of the attendance at our churches are those that are elderly and at higher risk, so we are cautioning everyone to strictly follow our guidelines. As I have said many times, we will have stormy seas before we get a vaccine, so it is imperative that we strictly follow the guidelines or the seas will only get rougher.”

Gov. Justice has directed the West Virginia National Guard and DHHR in collaboration with the Greenbrier County Health Department to host two additional free testing events tomorrow, Sunday, June 13 and Monday June 14, in Greenbrier County at Dorie Miller Park in Lewisburg from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

“I encourage anyone that has any level of concern to come and be tested,” Gov. Justice added.

“There are several key lessons to be learned from these outbreaks. Practicing good prevention measures do make a difference, such as wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart and using good hygiene,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “Out of state travel can be a risk and precautions should be taken upon return to West Virginia. Finally, please stay home from work or other community events if you are not feeling well.”

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