More than 180 exposed to COVID-19 during Mother's Day church service in California

SAN FRANCISCO — More than 180 people in a rural Northern California county were asked to self-quarantine after they were exposed to the coronavirus during a Mother's Day church service attended by an infected person, health officials said.

The infected person received their positive COVID-19 diagnosis the day after they attended service at a church in the town of Palermo and is now isolating at home, Butte County Public Health said in a news release Friday, May 15.

Health officials have contacted those who attended the service and given them instructions to self-quarantine and information about how to monitor themselves for symptoms and how to contact the public health office if they become sick, the statement said.

Everyone who was at the service will be tested, officials said.

Butte County Public Health did not name the church but said its decision hold a service could cause a major setback and require the county to revert back to more restrictive measures.

“We implore everyone to follow the State order and our reopening plan to help combat the potential spread of Covid-19," said Danette York, director of Butte County Public Health.

Butte County is one of 23 counties that have been given the green light by state officials to reopen more businesses but gatherings of any size are still banned.

As of Sunday, Butte County has had 22 positive COVID-19 cases reported and no deaths.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Pastor Mike Jacobsen of Palermo Bible Family Church, also known as PBFC, said during a virtual church service on Facebook Sunday that it was his church that held the service and that the person who tested positive didn’t have any symptoms when they attended their Mother’s Day service.

“They didn’t do it intentionally, they didn’t come to the church intentionally, and it was never my heart to put our church in harm’s way. That’s never been my desire,” he said.

Jacobsen said he is in self-quarantine and only left his house on Sunday to go to church and host the livestream. He didn't return a message Monday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Another Mother’s Day church service is to blame for a coronavirus outbreak of three people, health officials in Mendocino County said in a statement.

An elderly Ukiah Valley man who tested positive for the coronavirus came in contact with two residents of neighboring Lake County who also recently tested positive. The three participated in the production of a May 10 church service at an inland Mendocino County church that was broadcast live online. Two of them sang during the service, officials said.

The church was not identified, but county officials urged church leaders to identify themselves and encourage members of the church to seek testing for COVID-19 and medical attention if needed.

One of the Lake County residents who participated in the Mother’s Day church service at the venue was taken Saturday to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley. The other two men are in stable condition and isolating at home, officials said.

Mendocino County has reported 14 COVID-19 cases and zero deaths. Lake County now has 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases and zero deaths.