East Alabama Medical Center, which has 15 people hospitalized from the coronavirus, announced it has noticed "one nugget of information" that stands out among many of their COVID-19 patients: Most of them recently went to church.
The hospital issued a clear message to residents in Lee County: "Find alternate ways to worship, and stay together as a 'church' without congregating."
The hospital has performed close to 22% of COVID-19 tests in the state — 912 out of 4,082 — and cites that as a likely cause of Lee County having the third most cases in Alabama.
As of publication, Lee County has 47 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, behind only Jefferson, 173, and Shelby, 54.
But of the hospital's 15 patients confirmed to have COVID-19 and the 24 people hospitalized who EAMC suspects have the disease, going to church seems to be a common denominator.
"The last public setting for a sizable number of [patients] was at church. Not at one church, or churches in one town, but at church in general," EAMC said in a press release.
Many churches transitioned to online service in the Auburn area because of the coronavirus, but EAMC said "there are reports that some still met as recently as last Sunday."
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"We know that being at church is very sacred to many people, but it’s also a place where people are in very close contact and often greet each other with hugs and handshakes as a ritual," EAMC stated. "With that in mind, we again are asking that church members please not gather until our region has been deemed safe for group activities."
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