“We knew what we were getting into. We knew the possibilities,” said Pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church

By Julie Mazziotta
July 28, 2020 02:07 PM
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More than 40 members of a small church in Alabama have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a week-long revival, the congregation’s pastor said.

“The whole church has got it, just about,” Pastor Daryl Ross, of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church in a small community called Strawberry, told Al.com. Ross is one of the dozens to test positive, though he said he has just a few symptoms.

Ross and the congregation decided to hold a revival, a week-long event with a visiting preacher aimed at getting new parishioners to join the church, despite the risks.

“We knew what we were getting into,” he said. “We knew the possibilities.”

During the revival, masks were not required and the parishioners did what they were comfortable with, Ross said. The congregation typically numbers between 80 and 100 prior to the pandemic, but “most members” decided not to attend.

“We let everybody do what they felt like,” he said. “We social distanced. Most of them sat with their own family. If you were comfortable shaking hands, you shook hands. If you didn’t, you didn’t.”

Ross held morning and night services on Wednesday, and by the next day he heard of their first positive case.

“On the way back over Thursday is when we found out,” he said. “I got a call that one of our guys in the church has tested positive. So, we shut down revival and, by Friday night, I’ve got church members sick everywhere.”

Ross believes the person who infected the congregation had gotten COVID-19 at work. Three of his coworkers had tested positive, leading the church-goer to get tested despite having no symptoms. He still hasn’t developed symptoms, Ross said, though the man’s “entire family” is now infected.

Most the congregation is managing the virus at home, Ross said, but two male parishioners had serious cases.

“One respiratory, he almost got put in the hospital, but he’s OK,” Ross said. “The other one fought it off with two days in bed.”

Ross lost his sense of smell and taste and has a mild sinus infection, he said.

“I can’t smell or taste, a little sinus, that’s all I’ve had. The whole church has been running fever and headaches and terrible respiratory [issues], and I’ve been building fences and bush-hogging [cutting down heavy brush].”

Despite the large outbreak, Ross claims that the congregation would have another revival.

“My goodness, man, for three days we had one of the old-time revivals. It was unbelievable,” he said. “And everybody you ask, if you talk to our church members right now, they’d tell you we’d do it again. It was that good.”

Alabama is currently seeing soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases. The state recorded their highest number of new infections on July 23 with 2,399, and new cases have gone up 15 percent over the last two weeks, according to The New York Times. Deaths from COVID-19 are also soaring, with a record 61 new deaths on July 21.

As of Tuesday morning, at least 81,115 in Alabama have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,491 people have died. Nationwide, more than 4,303,800 people have tested positive and 148,450 people have died.

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