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Coronavirus warning issued after multiple infected people attend N.C. funeral, memorial service

"The positive test results came after the events, though others who were in attendance may have been exposed to the virus," a notice from the Chatham County health department said.

A county health department in North Carolina has issued an alert after learning that about 10 people infected with the coronavirus were among the mourners at a funeral and a memorial service last month.

Health officials in Chatham County, about 35 miles west of Raleigh, said in the public notice that the infected people were found to have attended a memorial service at Bonlee Recreational Park on July 25 and a funeral service at Emmaus Baptist Church in Pittsboro two days later.

"The positive test results came after the events, though others who were in attendance may have been exposed to the virus," the notice said.

Zachary Horner, a spokesman for the county Public Health Department, said Wednesday, "Our understanding is that between 70 to 100 people were at the memorial service and more than 200 were at the funeral."

IMAGE: Emmaus Baptist Church in Pittsboro, N.C.
Emmaus Baptist Church in Pittsboro, N.C.Google Maps

The church told officials that all who attended was required to wear masks and sit 6 feet apart, the health department notice said. Masks were provided to people who did not have them.

"These measures likely helped reduce the risk of spread at the service," the notice said.

An associate pastor at the church declined to comment Wednesday about details of the event.

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The health department said it has been in communication with the attendees who tested positive and with others who may have been in close contact with them.

"If you attended either or both of these events, please monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and be sure to practice social distancing, especially around those who are at higher risk of serious illness such as older adults and people with underlying health conditions," the notice said. "If you were told that you were in close contact with someone who tested positive, quarantine at home and stay away from others for at least 14 days."

The statement noted that large gatherings, especially where social distancing could not be maintained and face coverings were not consistently worn, have led to many coronavirus clusters around the state and the country.