• 66°

Cases rise, outbreak labeled

For the second week in a row, Charlotte County has seen a significant jump in COVID-19 cases with what is now being labeled as a community-wide outbreak by Piedmont Health District Director, Dr. Robert Nash.

Many in the community speculate the spread is linked to an inside four-day church revival event held at Emmanuel Bible Church, located at 401 Southern Drive in Keysville from Sept. 20 through Sept. 23. The church has said many who attended the services became sick with coronavirus.

Robert Nash

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the Virginia Department of Health and CDC have been recommending washing hands, wearing a mask, which is still a state mandate for public indoor settings and social distancing.

“Not adhering to these mitigation measures caused a community-wide outbreak,” Nash said. “Strict adherence to these measures will terminate the outbreak. Charlotte County’s current rate of new positive cases is about six to seven new cases per day. With enforced social distancing and social isolation (stay at home recommendations), this outbreak can be over in two to three weeks.”

From Monday, Oct. 5 to Monday, Oct. 12 The Virginia Department of Health reported a 42-case increase in the county in one week. The prior week, from Thursday, Oct. 1 to Tuesday, Oct. 5, 39 new cases were reported. A total of 76 cases have been diagnosed since Oct. 1, after only having 107 cases in the first 198 days of the pandemic.

On Monday, Oct. 5, an inquiry by phone and email was made to Emmanuel Bible Church pastor Todd Childers. Though neither has been returned, a lengthy statement was published on the church’s Facebook page the same evening.

A portion of the post read, “It is public knowledge that many that attended revival services the week of 9/20 – 9/23 became sick with COVID, including the pastor. However, some in the community are asking, ‘Why did we feel the need to hold revival services?’ To those that love the Lord Jesus with all our hearts, this is a silly question. But let it also be known that there were many precautions taken to hold these, and every indoor service since the last few Virginia Executive Orders allowed churches to meet indoors. All the church’s surfaces were wiped down before every service, and disinfectant sprays were released, two separate air purification units ran multiple hours every day, required COVID signage was posted in the entrance and throughout the church, hand sanitizer was available on the table in the foyer, and masks were purchased and available in the foyer for anyone that needed or wanted one. No one was discouraged from wearing a mask and announcements were made prior to our services that everyone should do what makes them feel safe.”

According to the Piedmont Health District and the Virginia Department of Health Coronaviruses Database, prior to the week of Sept. 20, Charlotte County positive COVID-19 cases were on the decline.

County Administrator Dan Witt said on Tuesday, Oct. 13, that Charlotte County, as a whole, is at a greater risk for severe complications of COVID-19 as about 2,600 of the county’s citizens are age 65 or older. “I would ask that everyone show consideration for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and all citizens by following the guidelines stressed by Dr. Nash,” Witt said.