According to health officials, 74 cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to a single church in Oregon. The Peoples Church in Salem, which is still holding in-person events and services, is now considered Oregon’s eighth-largest active workplace outbreak. Photos from recent services at the church appear to show parishioners gathered without masks or social distancing. In a video statement released last month, Executive Pastor Todd Murray acknowledged Oregon’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases but said the church is frequently cleaned, emphasizing the “sanitizing” of “frequently touched surfaces,” despite nearly year-old CDC guidance that says the virus is unlikely to spread that way. The Peoples Church was recently part of an effort to overturn Governor Kate Brown’s public health restrictions, on the grounds that it violates the constitutional right to religious freedom. While other states have seen numbers decline in recent weeks, Oregon’s cases steadily rose during the month of April.
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