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County announces COVID-19 outbreak at Awaken Church – The San Diego Union-Tribune


Nov 29, 2020

Public health officials announced on Saturday an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Awaken Church in Kearny Mesa, calling for anyone who attended services there between Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 to quarantine for 14 days from attendance.

The announcement came as the county posted yet another daily record of positive COVID-19 cases, with 1,859 infected, compared to the previous record of 1,802 a day earlier. There was also one additional death reported Saturday.

County officials said in a statement that they were taking the unusual step of publicly identifying the site of a COVID-19 outbreak because county contact tracers had been unable to reach everyone who might have been exposed.

Awaken Church, on Balboa Avenue just east of Interstate 805, had been notified earlier in the week of the outbreak, defined as at least three laboratory-confirmed cases in people from different households who visited the same location within two weeks of illness onset.

Anyone exposed at Awaken Church services should also be tested for COVID-19, the announcement said. County officials did not say how many cases were linked to the services.

There were 86 active community outbreaks in San Diego County as of Saturday. Of those 16 were new outbreaks. The county has typically avoided specifying the locations, instead identifying by category such as restaurant or grocery setting.

Awaken Church has caused county public health officials concern this summer because it was holding large gatherings at which few people were wearing masks. It continued holding such services despite being cited for violating the county health order.

Awaken Church was issued a cease-and-desist order by the county on July 17 after it held indoor services in defiance of a public health order banning such gatherings.

Houses of worship have gone to courts to challenge state public health orders restricting in-person religious services to slow the spread of COVID-19, with rulings in California in May and Nevada in July siding with governors.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three liberal-leaning justices dissenting, to bar restrictions on religious services that had been imposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in New York.

Awaken Church could not immediately be reached for comment.

Saturday’s new positive COVID-19 cases represented 14 percent of total tests given.

County officials also reported 636 COVID-19 hospitalizations, the most reported in a day since at least the end of October and an increase of 56 over the number reported Friday.

The COVID-19 population in intensive care also climbed Saturday to 175, two more than reported Friday. The county was using 72 percent of its ICU capacity.


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