Officials at a Waterford church are notifying the public of a ‘COVID cluster’ in the congregation, with a press release issued on Sunday, June 27.
According to the information from the church, on Thursday, June 18, Community Bible Church of Waterford (CBC) was notified that a parishioner who had been involved in two different Bible study groups earlier in the week was experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. Upon learning this information, CBC staff contacted the individual to confirm symptoms, identify contacts, and recommend testing by medical professionals, which was conducted the next day.
Within hours of this initial report, another individual who had attended one of the two groups called to inform the church that she herself was experiencing symptoms, and that a member of her household had been hospitalized due to complications from pneumonia. Once again, church staff urged medical testing and self-quarantine measures. Both individuals have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
The following morning, members of both Bible study groups were informed of possible exposure. Participants were advised to self-quarantine, observe social-distancing and face-covering guidelines, and to contact their healthcare providers for testing and follow-up instructions. Church leaders also asked the Senior Pastor, Rich Wisely, to contact the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency (SCHSA) to report the situation and request guidance. As a result, a Public Health Nurse was assigned to the church to assist with patient communications and contact tracing.
As of Thursday morning, June 25, four additional Bible study participants who had been in direct contact with the symptomatic individuals also tested positive for COVID-19. All active cases are currently under the care of their respective healthcare providers and are at various stages of recovery from symptoms that have ranged from minor to moderate.
“We have been pleased with the swift and professional response we received from the county,” said Pastor Wisely. “Our church has been upholding all of our elected and appointed officials in prayer, and we truly feel God’s hand of blessing as a result of this positive and collaborative spirit.
“CBC’s staff and leadership have worked hard to observe all guidance and regulations since the beginning of this pandemic,” he added, “and I’m proud of how our church has met needs and addressed challenges during this difficult time. Still, I am concerned that if a situation like this could develop as quickly as it has at a church like ours, which has exercised an abundance of caution and has such understanding and supportive members, it can happen anywhere.”
Like many churches in California, CBC has been offering weekly online services and gatherings since stay-at-home orders were issued on March 16. The church had only recently authorized in-person small groups and classes, but had not yet begun mass gatherings, which are now scheduled to resume Sunday, Aug. 9. Sunday services can be accessed weekly at 10 a.m. through the church’s website, cbcwaterford.org, or by searching for @CBCWaterford on Facebook Live or YouTube.