WASHINGTON -- On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a graphic to Twitter that detailed how two symptomatic individuals who would later test positive for COVID-19 ended up infecting at least 35 at church events in Arkansas in March, with three of those individuals dying.
According to the CDC, at least 26 people were confirmed to have COVID-19 after having contact with those who had been infected at the church events, with one of those 26 having died from the virus.
Even before the onset of the pandemic, the CDC, government leaders and other major health organizations have been warning the public to refrain from participating in social gatherings due to the novel coronavirus’ ability to spread rapidly from person to person, even among those who are asymptomatic. And with individuals who may be infected with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, a person who feels completely healthy and has not yet been tested can be spreading the virus unknowingly. Research published in April indicates that about half of people who have the novel coronavirus show no symptoms.
For some who are infected, it can take up to 14 days for those symptoms to appear, meaning that they can be spreading the virus unknowingly for days or even up to two weeks before they start to feel sick.
Asymptomatic individuals can worsen the spread and infection rate of COVID-19 now, considering that cities and states across the country are reopening parts of their economies. This can be especially problematic as many cities and states are still lacking in widespread COVID-19 testing capabilities.
On Friday, President Donald Trump pressured governors to open “houses of worship” over the weekend, classifying them as “essential places that provide essential services.” Many churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations had been conducting services through remote means such as video streams.
Nursing homes have been noted too to be hotspots for the spread of COVID-19, with the close proximity of residents contributing to the spread within those facilities.
With a potential vaccine projected to still be many months away, the CDC is still recommending that individuals avoid group gatherings, wash their hands often, practice social distancing, and cover their nose and mouth with a mask or facial covering.