United House of Prayer for All People. Photo: QCity Metro

[Update: County orders House of Prayer to close its Mecklenburg facilities after Covid-19 outbreak]

Mecklenburg County Public Health officials say that 68 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 are connected to convocation events that took place at the United House of Prayer for All People from Oct. 4-11. Of the 68 confirmed cases, two deaths have been reported.

Included in the total confirmed cases, is a cluster of six cases from Madison Saints Paradise South Independent Living (1821 Bishop Madison Ln.). The independent living facility reported that all its residents have since been tested for Covid-19, Deputy Health Director Raynard Washington said.

One of the individuals connected to the cluster is one of two confirmed deaths linked to the convocation event, Washington said. The other death is someone who participated in the event.

During a virtual media update Wednesday, Washington said county health officials attempted to contact 94 “close contacts” of the 68 confirmed cases to alert them about getting tested and quarantining immediately.

Mecklenburg County has been in contact with health departments throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and New York to inform them of the potential outbreak. Local officials recommended the health departments monitor for potential Covid-19 cases that may be connected to the House of Prayer event.

From video surveillance, Washington estimated that there were more than 1,000 people involved in the eight-day long event.

“Public health continues to advise anyone who participated in the event to please get tested for Covid-19, please monitor for symptoms and to please quarantine if you have any Covid-like symptoms,” he said.

County commissioner and former church member Vilma Leake spoke about the event at the county commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night. She said the event brought people from across the country to the church located at 2321 Beatties Ford Road.

“The House of Prayer is special for me because it’s one of our faith communities, and I have been attending that faith community since I was on the school board for 10 years,” Leake said during the meeting.

Washington is concerned about churches hosting large services in the future because of how difficult it is to track down how many individuals who may have been exposed or infected by Covid-19. He asked the United House of Prayer for All People not to host any gatherings for at least 14 days.

“I’m hopeful that they will comply,” he said. “We are working together with all the churches in our community to ensure that they have all the information they need to gather safely.”

Bishop C.M. Bailey informed church members about the outbreak, but he isn’t interested in hosting a testing site on the church’s property, according to Washington.

In partnership with StarMed Healthcare, Mecklenburg County is offering free Covid-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at MCPH’s Northwest Health Department location (2845 Beatties Ford Road). Washington encouraged people to call the county’s Covid-19 hotline at 980-314-9800 for more information on the respiratory virus.

Jonathan is a former QCity Metro reporter who covered Charlotte neighborhoods north of uptown. He also reported on education, public safety and health.

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