Michigan officials, including far-left Governor Whitmer, are raising concerns about an uptick in COVID-19 cases allegedly associated with religious gatherings…but the facts paint a much different picture.
Of the state’s 393 ongoing outbreaks – the state defines an outbreak as two or more cases – many of which are associated with longterm care facilities — 18 of them or 5% have been linked to religious gatherings, Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun said Wednesday. The number of outbreaks associated with religious gatherings has “significantly increased since September.”
The outbreaks came as Michigan experienced a record week of 10,241 confirmed cases of the virus for the week ending Oct. 17 and set a seven-day average for daily new cases at 1,463. The previous highest seven-day average was 1,395 cases for April 5-11, when there were a total of 9,768 confirmed cases.
“In these incredibly challenging times, it is critical that people have social supports, and I know that being part of a faith-based community can be an important part of that,” Khaldun said.
The state defines an outbreak as two or more cases “with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household.”
“But we have to remember that this virus is still very active, and it’s always looking to infect people no matter the reason for the gathering,” Khaldun said.
When asked at Wednesday’s press conference whether the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths could result in another stay-home order, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she was hesitant to address the question and create anxiety. BUT WAIT…isn’t it the Democrats who ripped President Trump for not wanting to stir fear and anxiety among Americans?
“That’s why we are sounding the alarm bell now,” Whitmer said. “These numbers are moving in the wrong direction. We are at a dangerous moment.”
But the governor argued a turnaround in numbers was possible.
“We’ve shown we can do this,” she said. “We have done it before,” she added.
Whitmer brought two religious leaders to the podium to preach about the effectiveness of social distancing, mask use or virtual services.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not have additional information about what types of religious services were involved in the outbreaks.
But the department’s spokeswoman, Lynn Sutfin, pointed to at least one large outbreak at a religious campus in Kalamazoo County.
As reported by the Detroit News:
In that case, more than 50 cases across four counties have been identified since early October at Radiant Church, the Radiant School of Worship and the Radiant School of Ministry.
On its website, the church noted Thursday that it had suspended weekend services Oct. 10 and 11 and 17 and 18 after several staff members had either tested positive for the virus or were displaying symptoms consistent with the virus.
The church plans to reopen its campuses Saturday and Sunday after a full 14-day quarantine, but it asked those feeling unwell or exposed to COVID to stay home.
The Archdiocese of Detroit is not aware of any outbreaks associated with masses or parish events, said Holly Fournier, spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
The archdiocese resumed public masses in May after a more than 2-month suspension, but the reopening came with various safety measures in place such as mask usage, extra cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing and capacity capped at 50%.
Parishioners are dispensed from the “grave obligation” of attending Sunday masses until Nov. 23. Since then, “we‘ve been alerted to isolated cases, but because of our safety protocols those have not led to outbreaks,” Fournier said.
The health department’s epidemic orders, which have largely taken the place of Whitmer’s executive orders that were nullified by the Michigan Supreme Court, also include a similar exemption: “Neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under this order for allowing religious worship at such place. No individual is subject to penalty under this order for engaging in religious worship at a place of religious worship.”