URGENT: Mass Exposure to COVID-19 at Lawrence County Event

by James McNary, Articles Editor
Freedom Christian Center south of Mt. Vernon on Missouri Highway 39. (File Photo) Freedom Christian Center south of Mt. Vernon on Missouri Highway 39. (File Photo)

An individual attending revival services at Freedom Christian Center south of Mt. Vernon on July 5-7 has been confirmed positive for the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This is in addition to 4 more cases the Lawrence County Health Department is reporting this afternoon (July 8).

In addition to the confirmed case at Freedom Christian Center, the LCHD said that the other 4 cases are from 2 different households. These cases were likely caused by community exposure.

“If you attended the [Freedom Christian Center] revival during any or all of these dates, we highly encourage you to please quarantine at home for 14 days from the last day you attended the revival and monitor [yourself] for symptoms of COVID-19,” the LCHD said in a statement. “We know there are additional attendees of the revival who are also exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.”

Anyone who feels they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and then develops the following symptoms: fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congested or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; and or diarrhea; should contact their healthcare provider for medical advice, before even making any in-person contacts.

The LCHD reported that the infected individual from the Freedom Christian Center revival also worked at Legacy Meats Co., just down the road, on Tuesday, July 7. They were not wearing masks at either location. Anyone recently purchasing meat from Legacy Meats Co. doesn’t need to dispose of the meat, but should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days. Quarantining isn’t necessary for Legacy Meat customers, unless they also attended the revival services at Freedom Christian Center.

Being in quarantine requires staying at home for 14 days from the last potential exposure to the Coronavirus.

“You are asked not to work, or go out in public (including attending church services) until the 14 days are over, because at any time during those 14 days you can develop symptoms and infect others,” said the LCHD statement. “It’s ideal for you to ask others to shop for you, or use contactless grocery pick-up. If you live with others, everyone needs to monitor for symptoms.”

If leaving the house is absolutely necessary while in quarantine, the LCHD says it is very important to wear a mask. If any of the previously listed symptoms appear, contact a healthcare provider.

It is due to the close contact between worshipers at the revival that this particular case could lead to a wider outbreak in Lawrence County if quarantine precautions are not followed.

“The fact that we are issuing such an urgent release asking for mass cooperation from a large group of people points to the seriousness of this evolving situation,” said the LCHD. “We will be advising Freedom Christian Center not to hold any church services or any other event until we can determine that it is safe for the public to return.”

The LCHD said they are still investigating this case and more information will be made available as it is received.

In addition to the case at the Freedom Christian Center revival, locations visited by the other 4 individuals included a 9 a.m. visit July 7 to the Aurora Walmart store. The individual was showing symptoms of COVID-19, but was not wearing a mask.

Those visiting Freedom Christian Center, Legacy Meats Co., or the Aurora Walmart in the 48 hours after these dates and times are being advised to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for the next two weeks.

Lawrence County now has 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 31 recovered and 1 individual deceased from the Coronavirus-caused illness. Symptoms of COVID-19 can begin to appear at any point from 2 days to 2 weeks after exposure to the virus.

Recommended preventive actions include:

- Wearing a mask in public and/or at work.

- Avoiding large social gatherings where social distancing is difficult to achieve.

- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

- Avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

- Washing hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds -- or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.

- Cover coughs or sneezes in the crook of the arm, or in a tissue, then wash hands.

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.

- Stay home if feeling sick.

Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of the more serious complications from COVID-19. The LCHD said those who do not have a primary doctor, can utilize a CoxHealth virtual visit via https://www.coxhealth.com/services/virtualvisits/ using the code: COVID.