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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

As COVID-19 Cases Connected To Charlotte Church Rise, County Offers Free Coronavirus Testing

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Updated Oct. 23 at 1 p.m.

At least 82 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths have now been confirmed in association with convocation events held at the United House of Prayer For All People off Beatties Ford Road earlier this month, Mecklenburg County reported Thursday.

That's an increase from 68 cases identified one day earlier. Among that total, there have been at least five hospitalizations and a cluster of at least eight residents at the Madison Saints Paradise South senior living community.

Mecklenburg County Deputy Health Director Raynard Washington said all residents of the facility have been tested for COVID-19.

Anyone who attended convocation events at the church Oct. 4-11 or who has been in contact with someone who attended the events is being encouraged to get tested for COVID-19. Mecklenburg County Public Health will provide drive-thru coronavirus testing in partnership with StarMed Health on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northwest Health Department location at 2845 Beatties Ford Road.

At least 127 people were tested at a free testing event Thursday.

Public health officials are contacting more than 100 people who are close contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19. They have also notified local health departments across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey and New York to monitor possible connected cases.

Washington said in a released statement that the church made plans for mask wearing and social distancing, but there was little enforcement and compliance.

It’s the largest cluster of cases reported by Mecklenburg County to date. Washington said the church has been asked not to hold any events for the next two weeks.

“I’m hopeful they will comply. And if they don’t comply, and we feel like more risk is associated with it, we will certainly continue to have conversations with them and consider all options available,” Washington said..

Data out of North Carolina’s health department published Wednesday show there have been at least 1,040 COVID-19 cases and 13 COVID-19 related deaths linked to religious gatherings in the state.

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