Nearly three dozen people who attended a children’s event at a church in Arkansas tested positive for COVID-19. Church officials said the affected members gathered in early March and more people are waiting for their test results.
The new cases of COVID-19 add to the growing outbreak in the state. Arkansas now has more than 300 coronavirus cases and two deaths related to the disease.
Mark Palenske, a pastor at First Assembly of God in Greers Ferry, said he and his wife were two of the 34 people who contracted the coronavirus. He said people should take the outbreak “more seriously” and increase efforts to avoid getting sick.
“Maybe you assumed that it couldn’t happen to you, just like I did,” Palenske wrote on a Facebook post. “Please adhere to the social instructions that you are receiving locally and nationally.”
Some members of the church are still waiting for their test results, Donald Shipp, a deacon at First Assembly of God in Greers Ferry, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Arkansas Department of Health has also started an investigation to find the main source of the coronavirus.
“We are still investigating newly reported cases and can’t definitively say they are all connected to one church,” Danyelle McNeill, a spokeswoman for the state health department, told NBC News. “This is a cluster within a larger outbreak in that area of the state.”
Coronavirus Cases In U.S.
Hospitals continue to report new cases of COVID-19 every day across the country. The virus is now present in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
There are more than 85,400 infected patients and over 1,000 deaths in the U.S. New York tops the affected states with 39,125 cases and 454 deaths, The Guardian reported Thursday.
New Jersey followed the list with 6,876 confirmed cases and 81 deaths due to COVID-19 and California recorded 4,019 infections and 82 deaths. However, Washington, with 3,207 cases, ranks second for death rates with 150 people killed by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Arkansas reported 335 patients with COVID-19 and only two deaths because of the disease. The state remains outside the top 20 states with largest coronavirus outbreak.