Officials have identified nearly 150 coronavirus cases that sprang from a single church service in a small Massachusetts city.
Small Town, Big Church
Fitchburg is located in Worcester County, in central Massachusetts. It has a population of just over 40,300.
On Oct. 18, Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg held a service for a large number of people. Health officials continue to monitor cases related to that service, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported.
Meanwhile, the Fitchburg Health Department is urging people to get tested if they attended a service at the church that day. Health officials will offer free testing on Tuesday at a mobile test site in Coggshall Park Stonehouse.
Officials are also looking into more than 40 cases tied to hockey in the town.
“The FHD has concerns that many cases are asymptomatic,” the FHD said in a statement. “This is particularly dangerous as it may be contributing to further spread of COVID-19 in the community.”
A week ago, health officials had identified 28 cases from the church. But that number quickly snowballed.
A Statewide Increase
“A pastor should think more of his parishioners than having them come together and be that close,” Fitchburg resident Joe Byrne told WBTS. “It’s just crazy.”
But the mayor of Fitchburg insisted the church is cooperating with city officials.
“We’ve met with them,” Mayor Stephen DiNatale said, and “they understand the importance of getting a handle on this.”
“We’re doing the best we can to address it and make sure that we arrest any further advance of the COVID-19,” he added.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued new executive orders on Monday to address the state’s skyrocketing coronavirus numbers, WCVB reported. Those include a statewide mask mandate in public spaces. He also introduced a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. And Massachusetts now has tighter limits on gatherings at outdoor events and private residences.