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Nearly 2 dozen COVID-19 cases tied to Wisconsin church despite social distancing efforts

Posted at 4:54 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 07:54:25-04

Wisconsin's Sheboygan County Health Department officials are investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases tied to a Sheboygan Falls church.

Health Officer Starrlene Grossman says that so far, 23 people have been connected to the outbreak. Pentecostals of Sheboygan County Church Office Manager and parishioner Rebecca Ballentine identifies her church as the location under investigation.

Ballentine says they believe a young man that had COVID-19 came to church in early June with what he thought were allergy symptoms.

The church had re-opened with a smaller capacity after the Safer at Home order was lifted in Wisconsin.

“We had taped off every other row to keep the six-foot recommendation going, just really trying to be as cautious and careful as we can as a congregation,” said Ballentine.

But it wasn’t just the church service that connected the nearly two dozen people who contracted the virus. “There were a couple of different church functions that were happening and different various numbers of people at each of the functions,” said Grossman.

Ballentine says she had a birthday party the day before church services that many people attended. In fact, 18 of the 23 people at the party have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Health Department believes there could be more cases tied to the church, but with the time since potential infection, those people should be showing symptoms soon. None of the people associated with this cluster of positive cases has had serious symptoms or been hospitalized.

The church has moved their services online in the meantime.