Concerns follow picture of Marion County church service

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Marion County health officials are investigating a report of a Fairmont church holding a service attracting 200 attendees.

Gov. Jim Justice held up a picture of people worshiping at Covenant Church during Monday’s coronavirus briefing, in which attendees were pictured not wearing masks or social distancing.

“People need to understand the danger they are exposing themselves and all kinds of people beyond that setting,” Justice said of community spread. “If there’s any place on the planet we should be loving our neighbors, it’s there.”

Marion County Health Department administrator Lloyd White said it is likely someone at the service had the virus.

“It really comes down to someone knowing what to do, but then making sure that they do it,” he said.

White noted contact tracing would be a challenge to conduct accurately.

“It will still be difficult to do a follow up because who were you exposed to,” he said. “If I attended a church service with people I don’t know, I have no idea who they were.”

White said he personally supports attending church services, and endorsed social distancing and face coverings.

Justice on Monday announced restrictions limiting crowd sizes to 25 people yet noted the rule does not apply to religious gatherings and weddings.

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