Rural churches in Georgia, Kentucky reeling after gatherings spread coronavirus
In Albany Georgia, the funeral of retired janitor Andrew Jerome Mitchell attracted more than 200 mourners on Feb. 29. In the weeks afterward, about two dozen of Mitchell’s friends and relatives fell ill, and the rural county now has one of the “most intense” clusters of covid-19 in the nation, Ellen Barry reports for The New York Times.
In Dawson Springs, Kentucky, it was a revival meeting over the weekend of March 14-15 that did it, leading to more than two dozen cases and two deaths, Bill Estep reports for The Lexington Herald-Leader.
Church gatherings, which often include singing, are dangerous during a pandemic, said one retired rural Kentucky doctor. “There is probably no better way to aerosolize the virus than singing. This is what happened in Washington State at a choir practice where out of 60 participants 45 came down with the virus. Thus, close contact, indoor closed quarters plus singing is a set up for a disaster,” Kevin Kavanagh told The Rural Blog. Kavanagh is a retired physician in Somerset and chair of Health Watch USA, a group that focuses on infection control.