Church closes again after reopening as coronavirus spreads among congregants

Facebook/Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle

A church in Georgia which reopened after shuttering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has shut again after several families reported to have become infected with the virus.

Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle, an independent Baptist congregation in Ringgold, Georgia, opened its doors to in-person services on April 26, just two days after the governor started reopening the state.  However, just 16 days later, the church announced on May 12 it would again suspend in-person services after three members tested positive for COVID-19. The church said only about 25 percent of the congregation attended the service in person and had followed social distancing rules. 

In a formal statement, the church said:

"Our hearts are heavy as some of our families are dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 virus, and we ask for your prayers for each of them as they follow the prescribed protocol and recuperate at home.

"Though we feel very confident of the safe environment we are able to offer in our facilities, the decision was made ... that we would discontinue all in-person services again until further notice in an effort of extreme caution for the safety and well-being of our families."

The first case linked to the church was announced May 12. The following day, the Northwest Georgia Public Health District investigated a total of three cases linked to the church.

Houses of worship throughout Georgia continue to open after restrictions eased last month. However, the Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle church's decision to re-suspend in-person services will have to be noted as churches begin to resume in-person services

Health experts have previously warned that returning too soon to large gatherings could spark another rise in COVID-19 cases.