20+ COVID-19 cases connected to Sheboygan church, possibly transmitted at party

Posted at 8:24 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 21:25:11-04

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY — Sheboygan County health officials are investigating a COVID-19 outbreak that originated at a local church.

There are at least 23 confirmed cases connected to the church, representing half of all the active cases in the county.

A spokesperson for the church tells TMJ4 News that the outbreak is connected to a member in their 20s who attended a church service. They said the person had symptoms of allergies and that there were no signs of COVID-19.

Before the person got tested, they had also been at a gathering with friends who are also members of the church. Then, following that they all showed up at a birthday party. The spokesperson says the transmission of the virus could have happened either at the church or the party, as 18 out of the 23 cases are people who were at the party.

Health officials won’t say where the church is located, but City of Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen said it’s outside city limits.

Health Officer Starrlene Grossman said the church started in-person services after the state’s ‘Safer at Home’ order was stuck down last month.

She said the church was limiting the size of services, and encouraging masks and social distancing.

Grossman said the first case was reported on June 3 and that more cases have been trickling in over the past week and a half.

None of them are hospitalized and are managing their symptoms at home in quarantine.

Grossman urges all other churches to follow the public health guidelines.

“We’re looking at 50 percent capacity, making sure that you can use six-feet social distancing, making sure that you’re doing good cleaning of places that are regularly touched, so like door handles and those types of things,” Grossman said.

The church is now doing services online, and has canceled all in-person events.

Grossman said if they’re going to see any additional positive cases it would be in the next week or so.

As the county released news of the outbreak, Sheboygan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer reported that a city employee tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. He said it doesn’t appear the employee contracted the virus at the city workplace. Out of precaution, City Hall remains closed, but is expected to open later in the week following a thorough cleaning of the facility.

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