San Diego County expanded its COVID-19 outbreak advisory Wednesday to include two other Awaken Church campuses after 64 people have been infected with the disease at the facilities.
Public health officials said all those who attended services or other events at the Awaken Church locations in Kearny Mesa, San Marcos and Chula Vista between Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 should be tested for COVID-19, as well as quarantine for 14 days from the last date of exposure.
The county is taking the unusual step of publicly identifying the Awaken Church community outbreaks because contact tracers have not been able to reach all the individuals exposed and ensure appropriate measures are taken to prevent additional spread.
Awaken Church has not complied with public health orders that restrict large gatherings and continues to hold worship services indoors. According to its website, in-person services and other activities are offered, as well as online services and an “outdoor experience” at some locations. Awaken Church has five locations in San Diego County and one just south of Salt Lake City.
A message on its website said the church follows CDC standards for cleaning and sanitizing, and that polar ionization units at the Balboa Avenue campus “kill 99.4% of pathogens and viruses in the air, making our church locations the ‘safest’ places to be in San Diego.” A Facebook post Wednesday evening tells followers to check their email for a COVID-19 update, and provides links to information on local testing, quarantine guidance and how to watch for symptoms.
Other information on the site explains the church believes wearing a mask and socially distancing during its indoor services are personal choices for each individual to make.
During the county’s weekday COVID-19 update Wednesday, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher advised religious followers to worship outdoors and maintain social distance.
“We recognize the role religion and faith play in people’s lives, particularly in trying times,” Fletcher said. “But the building does not constitute the faith.”
— Staff report
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